Home News & Events Ondekoza brings Taiko to Marietta, Ohio

Ondekoza brings Taiko to Marietta, Ohio

By Shigeyo Henriquez, Road Manager for Ondekoza

This is my second time in Marietta and I’ve become more fond of this area. Marietta is a beautiful old city founded in 1788.

Every morning Hunt Brawley, Executive Director of Peoples Bank Theatre, escorted us to school and observed the workshops. I could see that he enjoyed not only seeing Taiko drumming, but also the students reacting and enjoying the powerful Taiko drums and having a chance to participate.

After the workshop a photo snap with Hunt Brawley, a board member and a teacher of Veritas Academy. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.
After the workshop we snapped a photo with Hunt Brawley, a board member, and a teacher of Veritas Academy. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

The final public concert was held at the Peoples Bank Theatre, a great theater for Ondekoza’s performance. It was the largest World Fest crowd of over 400 people!

Everyone was seated and the house lights went dark. The audience waited… Then suddenly the Taiko drums thundered and bright light hit the large Taiko in the center of the stage. It was a very dramatic start. The audience shouted out “WHAO!” and was mesmerized by the sound of drums and the performers’ power, strength, and dance-like movements. Shakuhachi, Matsuda’s flute, is delicate and tender which complements powerful Taiko. This is a must to see performance.

All seven members of Ondekoza perform for their performance at Peoples Bank Theatre. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.
All seven members of Ondekoza perform for their performance at Peoples Bank Theatre. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

Yoshi plays Kendama. He swings a large red wooden ball and places it on top of the stick. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.
Yoshi plays Kendama. He swings a large red wooden ball and places it on top of the stick. Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

By Luke Rivard, Program Associate for International Initiatives

Unlike Shigeyo, this was my first time in Marietta and my second time seeing Ondekoza for their work with Arts Midwest. Last winter, Ondekoza resided in Red Wing, Minnesota for a week during their first World Fest tour and I had the chance to be with them for a full day. You can read about that experience here.

My trip this time served two purposes. The first was to meet two members of Ondekoza, Yuji Tanikawa and Morooka, at the Columbus airport and drive them to Marietta. The second was to meet our partners at Peoples Bank Theatre and to witness the action of Ondekoza’s workshop on Friday.

Driving through Ohio was easy and refreshing, especially coming from an icy Minneapolis. The weather was sunny and in the upper 40’s; I enjoyed being outside without my winter jacket. I met Tanikawa and Morooka at the airport and we made our way to Marietta to meet up with the rest of Ondekoza and Shigeyo that evening.

Downtown Marietta. Photo by Luke Rivard.
Downtown Marietta. Photo by Luke Rivard.

Yuji Tanikawa giving us a thumbs up during load in at Peoples Bank Theatre. Photo by Luke Rivard.
Yuji Tanikawa giving us a thumbs up during load in at Peoples Bank Theatre. Photo by Luke Rivard.

We went to dinner at Chinese buffet, a restaurant that was scoped out by Shigeyo during her tour with Manhu during their Arts Midwest World Fest residency in fall of 2017. After everyone finished their meal, Shigeyo presented the group with little homemade gifts wrapped in tissue. Each member of Ondekoza unwrapped their gift and was surprised to uncover small chocolates that Shigeyo gave them for Valentine’s Day!

Shigeyo made Valentines for members of Ondekoza. Thanks Shigeyo! Photo by Luke Rivard.
Shigeyo made Valentines for members of Ondekoza. Thanks Shigeyo! Photo by Luke Rivard.

The next day, Friday, I had the opportunity to witness Ondekoza’s workshop at Peoples Bank Theatre for a variety of schools in the area. It was great to meet Hunt, Drew, and Aurora in person for the first time and see how they work together to make the World Fest opportunity come to life in Marietta. Before the workshop began, Hunt introduced me to the stage to explain who Arts Midwest is, what we do, and what they are about to experience. I introduced Ondekoza, and seconds later Yoshi began the performance with a thrilling solo on the Taiko drums.

Luke explains Arts Midwest to students and introduces Ondekoza. A student already has a question! Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.
Luke explains Arts Midwest to students and introduces Ondekoza. A student already has a question! Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.

Ondekoza demonstrates how much strength it takes to play the Taiko drums. Photo by Luke Rivard.
Ondekoza demonstrates how much strength it takes to play the Taiko drums. Photo by Luke Rivard.

Students give it a shot! Photo by Luke Rivard.
Students give it a shot! Photo by Luke Rivard.

Students playing Taiko drums at Ondekoza's workshop at Peoples Bank Theatre. Photo by Luke Rivard.
Students playing Taiko drums at Ondekoza’s workshop at Peoples Bank Theatre. Photo by Luke Rivard.

It is not often that Arts Midwest staff have the opportunity to see the Arts Midwest World Fest program in action. During my workdays in Minneapolis, I regularly communicate with our partner communities via phone and email, and being on site with our friends at Peoples Bank Theatre brought a new and personal perspective to the work I do as Program Associate. Thank you to Hunt Brawley and his team for being great hosts and doing fantastic work at Peoples Bank Theatre!

Thank you to everyone in Marietta and especially to Hunt. Farewell! Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.
Thank you to everyone in Marietta and especially to Hunt. Farewell! Photo by Shigeyo Henriquez.