Sunny San Diego California!
NATC (North American Taiko Conference) brings together taiko players from all over the continent and also from around the world! It's a fantastic venue to learn, experience, connect with old friends, and maybe make some new friends!
I enjoyed my NATC experience with several of my taiko buddies from Midnight Taiko, a few students from MRU, other Albertan taiko players, and reconnecting with taiko friends from all over! San Diego was beautiful (and HOT!) and there were many highlights from the weekend.
Instead of selecting several 2-hour workshops to take during the conference, I opted for the new Intensive format. I studied Taiko and Movement with Michelle and Toru from Unit Souzou. I chose this Intensive because I am a dancer and I think that movement and dance are very important but often underestimated in taiko. It was a pretty challenging Intensive, but a very supportive environment with friendly familiar faces from years past, and some new friends too!
For me, the highlight of the conference was performing in the Taiko Ten concert on Friday night. I performed the piece Omiyage with 50+ other taiko players from around the world, including the composer Shoji Kameda and the choreographer Yuta Kato. I was placed in the front row and one of the twelve soloists! I have never played taiko like this before, and it was an experience I'll never forget. I dropped my bachi (oops!) but I don't think I've ever smiled as much during a performance before. Incredible.
I also had fun watching Kris Bergstrom lead Matsuri Crashers at night. Studying Jack Bazaar a few years ago with Kris was so much fun, I love just watching him work. So when he asked for people to demonstrate a simple structure (and wanted someone who "has no idea what they're doing") I jumped up and tried to make something up on the spot. Improv is not my strong suit, so I'm sure my solo stunk. But it was fun.
Another highlight was the final concert for the conference. Words can't express how amazing all the performers were. It was sad when the concert was over.
I think I browsed the Marketplace too much. I bought too many bachi to fit in my bag ("Look at all the money I'm saving on shipping by buying it in person and taking it home myself!") and I also had a pair of bachi signed by the great Sensei Tanaka. What a great experience to meet him in person!
My friends and I followed up the conference with a day in La Jolla before hopping a plane to San Francisco for a vacation on the way home.
My friend Marty goes up for a Matsuri Crasher too!
Yatai Bayashi with Joe Small
Alberta Taiko Breakfast Club
Me and Yuta at the Asano Taiko booth in the marketplace
We found the ocean
We were so excited. Being able to read the instructions would have been helpful!
Biking in San Francisco across the bridge into Sausalito
Sensei Tanaka signed a pair of bachi for me. So special! (Although he did eat breakfast beside us every day, too!)
Epic Omiyage with 50+ players from around the world! Can you see me?!? It was dark. I'm on the floor in front of the stage in my blue shirt!
My Matsuri crasher!