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Author: Clay Evans

TAO: Phoenix Rising — Japanese taiko ‘musician athletes’ at Macky Feb. 24

BOULDER, Colo. — The members of the Japanese taiko drumming corps Tao should feel right at home when they perform in Boulder for the first time on Feb. 24.

After all, the city has as good a claim as any other as the aerobic fitness capital of America, and Tao members know firsthand what it means to train. The performers have their own training center in the Kuju highlands of Japan where their daily workouts start at 5 a.m. and include 20-kilometer runs, calisthenics and martial-arts training along with dance, drumming and music practice.

The training regimen is so challenging that more than 400 would-be members have washed out since the group was founded in 1993, inspired in part by Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.

“We often say we are not only musicians but also athletes,” drummer Taro Harasaki has said. “We move around the stage all the time. We bring a lot of choreography, there’s a lot of dancing. The drumming itself is so hard actually.”

Set to both traditional Japanese music and modern compositions written by members of the troupe, a Tao performance combines athletic drumming, but vigorous dance, acrobatics, spectacular special effects and chameleonic costumes into an unforgettable experience that evokes everything from ancient samurai culture to the slick and futuristic Shinjuku, Tokyo’s “cyberpunk district.”

To call a Tao performance “high energy” is, shall we say, a bit of an understatement.

“Their name may evoke thoughts quiet meditation, but the … performers in the Japanese troupe Tao are anything but quiet,” says the Chicago Tribune. “They’re all about noise, pounding, driving, intricate drumming, as well as incomparable muscular zeal. No matter your weariness, this is one performance during which you’re not likely to doze off.”


TAO: Phoenix Rising

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24

WHERE: Macky Auditorium, University of Colorado Boulder campus

TICKETS: $14 and up

INFO: cupresents.org or 303-492-8008