Awa Odori — Fools Dance
Onibana Taiko are three veterans of Vancouver’s Taiko community whose performance presentations draw from Japanese folk rituals such as minyo and matsuri all with a touch of punk aesthetics. We allow audience members to commune with our ancestors via obon dance, song, sensu (fan) cheerleading, fue, shamisen and kick-ass taiko. We are settlers of Japanese ancestry composed of Leslie Komori, E. Kage and Noriko Kobayashi.
For the MPCAS, we created an edited version of our video, Awa Odori, which is a traditional obon song and dance honouring our ancestors. This obon dance is about not taking ourselves seriously. The chorus goes “we are dancing fools, you are watching fools, as long as we are all fools, we might as well be dancing fools,” all in the name of honouring our ancestors and those who have passed on. These lyrics are emphasized through text overlay on the videos of people dancing at our shows.
The work includes footage from pre-Covid times except seniors and workers at a Long Term Care Home in Surrey in summer 2020. The other footage comes from Shinnen Soul Concert at Moberly Arts and Cultural Center 2020, Powell Street Festival 2018 & 2019, Vines Fest 2018, Katari Taiko 40th Anniversary Gathering 2019 and Keremeos Backyard 2019, and Capitol Theatre Nelson BC 2019.
Thanks to our friends and audience members who danced at our shows and appear in this video. We hope to inspire a similar sense of playful communing with ancestors for those who view the MPCAS.
E. Kage is a Taiko artist/performer and a digital audio artist. Born in Japan growing up in Canada, they embraced the art of Taiko as a way to express their empowerment as a mixed race queer youth. Since the 1980s they co-founded several Taiko/music groups touring parts of Europe and North America. Their digital audio works have been exhibited locally and abroad. They continue to create and express utilizing the Taiko, pushing the boundaries of the form, and collaborating with other artists. Their on-going projects include studying the ceremonial roots of Taiko, creating audio compositions, and performing/composing with Onibana Taiko. They live, thrive and work on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh(Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tseil-waututh) peoples, aka Vancouver BC.