Providing two distinct entrees into the Japanese heritage of taiko, Chicago-based Tatsu Aoki and Tsukasa Taiko enliven and give new life to wadaiko drums and kumi-daiko ensemble performances in two programs—one traditional, one contemporary—at the Museum of Contemporary Art Stage December 16-18. Used for a wide range of purposes, including to set the pace of military marches on ancient battlefields and in Noh theater to create dramatic tension, taiko dates back as early as the sixth century, and today is still a field of active innovation. Aoki’s returning family favorite “Tsukasa Taiko Legacy” program focuses on the traditional ensemble performance aspects of taiko. The new “Reduction” program draws from diverse practitioners across a variety of improvisational fields, melding an impressive diversity of forms including kimono dance, kabuki, jazz and folk music. Among those participating in “Reduction” are Tokyo-based Kabuki artist Sennosuke Wakatsuki and Chicago’s own Yokohama-born Ayako Kato, a recipient of this year’s prestigious 3Arts award.
At the MCA Stage, 220 East Chicago, (312)397-4010. “Tsukasa Taiko Legacy” takes place Saturday and Sunday, December 17 & 18 at 3pm. “Reduction” takes place Friday and Saturday, December 16 & 17 at 7:30pm. $10-$20.