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                                                By R. Pikser


In 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.


The 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. 



The 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.


Like 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,




March 1st-4th, 2017

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Howard Gilman Opera House

30 Lafayette Avenue

Brooklyn, NY

Tickets starting at $30

718 636 4100