When I last caught up with TAIKOPROJECT in 2016, they were in the midst of a collaboration with Chicano rock band Quetzal. At the time, TAIKOPROJECT’s Executive Director Bryan Yamami talked about “honoring tradition by turning it on its head.” What TAIKOPROJECT does in each performance is remind us that even an art form as ancient and culturally rooted as Japanese taiko drumming can be fiercely and unapologetically contemporary.
To keep it fresh for their show later this month, the group has been working with Blue13 Dance Company, a contemporary Indian dance group that blends traditional Bhangra, Kathak and Bollywood dancing with everything from ballet to hip-hop. “We’ve done music collaborations but never a dance collaboration,” Yamami tells me over the phone from Germany, where his company is on tour. “Blue13 seemed like a perfect fit because they are based in tradition, but they’re really modern.”