By R. Pikser
this latest program of drumming with a bit of metal percussion, Dadan 2017,
the 14 male drummers of the troupe Kodo, directed by Tamasaburo Bando, explore
sound and timbre, rhythm and movement. In these days of ultra-speed, one is
tempted to dismiss repetition as something tedious; on the contrary, repetition
can open you to an experience deeper than you even knew existed. That is the
level at which these performers work. The depth of their exploration brings
the audience into synchrony with the drumming, allows them the time to sense
their internal rhythms, and provides them the space to meditate on the richness
that can come from openness to those rhythms.
evening is composed of eleven compositions, ranging in date from 1999 to 2014;
two pieces composed by Kodo, one by Mr. Bando, and the rest by other
composers. Mr. Bando has arranged the pieces to provide a sense of build over
the course of the evening, both musically and in terms of how the bodies are
used in the drumming. The opening piece starts almost imperceptibly with the
light vibrations of instruments something like marimbas, the sounds swelling
and receding. To this, drums are eventually added, also gently. By the end
of the evening, the three enormous drums which are on stage as the audience
enters (surrounded by various other sizes and shapes of drums) take over as the
driving force, even as they are moved into different configurations on the
stage so that we can admire them and the drummers from different angles.
movement of the drummers also changes over the course of the performance. In
the opening Toudoufuu, at first the performers seem not to move at all, then
they move, but rigidly, almost like automatons, as they pivot from one drum to
another, though their actual drumming movement is perforce more fluid. By the
end of the evening, arms have reached forward, sideways, and have arched
overhead to come down onto the drums to elicit the most resonant of sounds.
The performers, all in white pants, sometimes with white tops, sometimes bare
chested, are adorned only with a bit of glitter in their hair and on their arms
and torsos. As the evening progresses, they change places at the different
drums, as first quietly, almost unnoticed, slipping by each other; eventually
they work up to jumps and leaps, all without missing a beat in the music.
the basic white of the performers, the space in which they work is also basic.
The full array of drums and percussion that greets the audience from a bare
stage with no wings, gives way to just those instruments needed at any given
moment. When performers have finished their part in a given piece, they take
themselves and their instruments off stage, to be picked up at need in the most
disciplined of movements, just as choreographed as the actual drumming.
Everything is choreographed. Everything is clean. No movement is wasted or
arbitrary or unthought through. This, as well as the inner vibration, is what
we take away with us,
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Gilman Opera House
starting at $30