Sharon Sato has been Taiko drumming since the '80s. It's a dynamic artform, and when you listen to it, it's sure to get your blood pumping. You can catch Sato drumming on stage with others at the Japanese Cultural Festival on Saturday, April 16 (12:30 pm, Santa Fe Community Convention Center, 201 W Marcy St.). The festival starts at 9:30 am and goes till 5 pm.
What is Taiko drumming?
It was actually an alarm for the small villages in Japan, if it were not a festival. If something was happening, you'd beat the drums. All the festivals would have these songs that would be played at matsuris (that means festival), and we'll be playing some of them at the festival. However, it wasn't a staged performance—it was just normal people. But when it came to the US, it became more of a theatrical experience. For the hippie generation, with a lot of people trying to stand out, it really started to get popular in California.
How did you get started?
We were totally impressed during the Olympics in Los Angeles performance of Kodo. They were just these big sexy guys, and they hung the drums from the ceiling. It was a lot like Cirque du Soleil. And when we (myself and a girlfriend) signed up and told the teacher why we signed up, that was shocking to the more conservative members, who were taking it as more traditional Japanese Taiko. We had a wonderful life of Taiko, since [we were studying with] the people who brought Taiko to the US. They were very generous in teaching
What's difficult for beginners in this drumming style?
Other than you should have rhythm—and you'd be surprised how many people that sign up don't have that. It's also very physical. Many people can't bend down low and strike the drum or have the coordination to follow the choreography. It's also a challenge to your brain because you have to remember the sequence.