Drum Tao brought their mixed skills in theater, gymnastics and martial arts to bring to life an exhilarating narrative set to the ensemble of traditional Japanese percussion.
Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho
International sensation Drum Tao returns to Manila with flurry of drumbeats, dreams
Gerald Dizon (Philstar.com) - September 12, 2019 - 2:21pm

MANILA, Philippines — Third time’s the charm for internationally-acclaimed Drum Tao as they once again set the stage ablaze, performing their heart-stopping new show, "Rhythm of Tribe, Time Travel Chronicles," recently at The Theatre at Solaire in Paranaque, Manila.

The Tao musical troupe brought their mixed skills in theater, gymnastics and martial arts to bring to life an exhilarating narrative set to the ensemble of traditional Japanese percussion. With their "bachi" (wooden sticks used to play Japanese drums) held tight in their hands like drawn swords, all 13 members made beautiful thunderous music that was met with a roaring bevy of praises and a standing ovation.

Push, pull, haul, carry, roll and spin they went as the performers took the "taiko" (Japanese barrel-shaped drum) drums in every imaginable way onstage, a labor fondly carried out in the name of impeccable artistry. There was no wasted movement; every flick of wrist, swing and hit exhibits collaborative synergy gained from years of practice and the members’ natural chemistry.

For every number, the entrances vary—they conjure jolly images of troubadours and buskers in a sing-song stroll, or remind us of the Samurai or Sumo in fighting stance, armed with instruments as if they were brandished swords, all while letting out encouraging grunts and urgent yelps, that almost sound like battle cries. Whichever they embody, they remain alluring performers, donned in regalia designed by none other than Junko Koshino.

The drums were carried in every imaginable way onstage, a labor fondly carried out in the name of impeccable artistry. Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

When they’re not on the drums, they’re dancing in a synchronized melee of staves and Samurai swords, spinning a-la Cirque du Soleil with a shiny hollow cube, doing comedic illusions in LED light costumes, or soloing the "shamisen" (traditional Japanese stringed instrument) atop a high wooden platform, sending licks of lilting music across the theater. It’s sometimes rough, sometimes majestic, but it is never dull with Drum Tao. You never know what to expect, only surrender to the intensity.

The performances are fast when they need to be: slow, mellow, and somber where required, but the command remains the same. One minute, the drums are mimicking the soft, pitter-patter of drizzle, and the next, exploding into the angry pounding of a squall, accompanied by a dramatic duet of airy "shinobue" (a traditional side-blown Japanese flute), and ending in a crescendo of high-strung notes — all calling to mind a ritualistic dance.

By the end of the second act, the performers impress with a tight progression of an impossible percussive feat in a finale that lands a finishing blow.

One of the members showcasing a choreographed number using staves. Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

After everything is said and done, the drumming stays with you beat by rushing beat, and you leave the premises breathless but satisfied.

Established in 1993, Drum Tao is a 39-member group that has been touring since 2004, proudly telling the story of the traditional Japanese drum. The group has performed in 26 countries, 500 cities, in front of over a total audience of eight million. They are considered the greatest of all Japanese Drum Performers in Japan.

Whatever Drum Tao did onstage, they commanded with moving intensity. Philstar.com/Kat Leandicho

For more information on upcoming tour dates, visit the Drum Tao website at http://www.drum-tao.com/main/english and like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DRUMTAO.JPN.

DRUM TAO
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