Another reason I wish we lived in LA: TaikoProject, the acclaimed genre-expanding taiko group based in LA, brings its talents home to perform its “Rhythmic Relations 2011” show this weekend outdoors at Noguchi Plaza in front of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo, 244 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles.
There will be two performances, at 2 and 7:30 pm; tickets are $30 – $35 + service charges. Tickets are available online at www.jaccc.org or by phone (213) 680-3700. The group will be joined by Bombu Taiko, Kitsune Taiko and Loma Pacific Taiko, and the show will feature special guest Ryutaro Kaneko (former Artistic Director for the superstar Japanese taiko group Kodo).
You may have caught TaikoProject this week on “The Voice,” the terrific NBC singing competition show (we’re cheering for Dia Frampton, and not just because she’s Asian American — hapa Korean). You may have also seen TaikoProject way back in 2006, playing on a Mistubishi car commercial (I remember at the time, thought it was totally cool to see a taiko group on a commercial).
Here’s how TaikoProject describes itself:
Three local taiko drum groups, Denver Taiko, Mirai Daiko and Taiko with Toni, are hosting “Heartbeat for Japan: A Taiko Benefit,” a concert to raise funds for relief efforts in Japan, on Sat March 26, 7 pm at Colorado Heights University (formerly Loretto Heights) Auditorium at 3001 S. Federal Blvd. Admission is free but donations will be accepted. This should be a terrific evening of thundering drums for a great cause.
Erin and I have great respect for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ need to preserve our traditional heritages — they enrich our lives and help give us our sense of identity with the countries of our ancestors. I think too few young Asian Americans hold on to their ethnic heritage.
At the same time, we’re not just about kimonos and martial arts and traditional music and dances, and don’t appreciate that outsiders (white people, mostly) view us through the exoticized filter of our cultural and social traditions. That’s why, during her tenure as editor-in-chief of Asian Avenure magazine, Erin sought to paint Denver’s AAPI communities with a broader palette. Major stories were about AAPIs in politics, the popularity of Anime with non-Asians, Asian Americans in the U.S. military, multi-racial Asian Americans and even how Asian Americans are excelling in hip-hop dance.
Erin also wrote this month about Namita Khanna Nariani, the founder of Mudra Dance Studio, who’s a terrific example of how AAPIs can synthesize their respect for traditional culture with the modern energy and pan-cultural richness of being Asian in America.