Sakura Concert Series – Taiko & Dance

*This event is part of the Sakura Concert Series of the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival of Philadelphia. The festival is free – no ticket is required!*

KyoDaiko (11:00 AM)
KyoDaiko is a community taiko drumming ensemble based in the Philadelphia area. Our members are volunteers who perform for love of the art and the energy that the great drums bring us. We perform regularly at a variety of events: from school and community festivals, to Phillies baseball games, Japanese festivals (like D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival), to more unusual gigs like roller derbies and dragon boat regattas. KyoDaiko was founded in 2005. The group was originally led by Kristopher Rudzinski, who studied with Marco Lienhard of Taikoza in New York. KyoDaiko’s membership comes from a wide variety of backgrounds, and continues to grow with new students and continuing players. Members attend regular classes throughout the year and participate in workshops with master teachers from around the world.

NYC Yosakoi Team: Kogyoku (11:45AM)
YOSAKOI, a form of traditional Japanese dance born in the post-WWII era, has taken Japan by storm and spread its wings to countries across the world. YOSAKOI only has two rules, to use a hand clapper called Naruko, and to use traditional folk music. Such ease caused YOSAKOI to increase in popularity worldwide, and lead to the creation of a fresh new YOSAKOI team, born right here in the Big Apple: KOGYOKU. KOGYOKU has a mixture of members from all different backgrounds: Japanese Americans, Japanese language learners, dance enthusiasts, and people who just want to have some fun and exercise while they’re at it! KOGYOKU will showcase a piece called “WASSHOI”, a jazz and hip hop fusion piece with traditional Japanese elements. The team displays their unique ability to cross the bridge between Japan and America and bring the two cultures closer together.

danceLogic (12:00 PM)
danceLogic is a West Park Cultural Center program for teen girls that combines the art of dance and computer coding. Participants learn the mechanics of dance and coding, using keywords and processes from coding to inform their original choreography creation. The girls learn the value of teamwork, dedication, focus, and industry-standard coding language.

Joe Small (12:20 PM)
Joe Small is a professional taiko artist, choreographer/composer, and educator. First studying taiko as a Swarthmore College dance student in 2002, Joe has lived 8 years in Japan to pursue the art, including through the apprenticeship of renowned ensemble Kodo. Since 2012, Joe has been a disciple of pioneering taiko artist Eitetsu Hayashi and sole non-Japanese member of his professional ensemble, Fu-Un no Kai (Tokyo). Joe also performs at times as a member of Taikoz (Sydney, NSW) and Taikoza (NYC). Based in LA from 2014-2017, Joe instructed at LA Taiko Institute while performing taiko in collaborative works with contemporary dance, puppetry, operatic theatre, and heavy metal. In 2015-2016, he debuted and toured an original full-length work, “Spall Fragments”, and in 2018 performed in the Pew-funded concert “ARC”. Joe has performed and taught throughout the United States, as well as in Japan, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Spain, and Switzerland. An Assistant Professor of Dance at Swarthmore College, where he directs the taiko ensemble, Joe splits time between the Philadelphia area and Japan. Photo by Kim Nakashima.

Swarthmore Taiko Ensemble

Through the contemporary performance art of Taiko drumming that stems from both Japan and its cultural diaspora, Swarthmore Taiko Ensemble (STE) aims to provide students and the community-at-large a greater understanding and appreciation of Japanese and Asian-American arts, cultural identities, and traditions. With attention to artistic rigor, STE members study and perform contemporary and folk-based taiko drumming works that underscore fundamental artistic relationships between dance and music. Established in 2000-2001 by Prof. Kim Arrow and interested students out of the Drum and Dance Ensemble course, STE is a for-credit course in the Swarthmore College Dance Program. Professional taiko artist and Assistant Professor of Dance Joe Small has directed STE since 2018. Photo by Sascha Fornari.


Acaraje (1:00 PM)
Acarajé drums is a Philly-based community band that aims to inspire and drum against oppression and racism under the genre of Samba Reggae percussion music from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. The name Acarajé comes from the popular street food, typically consisting of fritters stuffed with shrimp and various ingredients. It is a food with origins in West Africa and is often referred to as soul food for the people. Like the popular dish, the Samba reggae grooves and rhythms performed by the band reflect the cultural ties rooted in African traditions.

Acarajé has participated in various events both in and out of Philadelphia, including the first Philadelphia annual Holiday Parade, Spiral Q’s Peoplehood parade, Firefly Music Festival, The Bronx Halloween Parade, Wawa’s Welcome America Festival, Trenton’s Juneteenth Parade, and many more.


Casual Fifth (1:30 PM)
Casual Fifth is the part-time performance company of Alex Pfister and Mac Evans. Alex and Mac started practicing modern dance and taiko drumming in college, have continued studying in performing in New York City, and now reside in Philadelphia. Casual Fifth is the joint venture of Alex and Mac and the friends, mentors, and mentees they’ve made along the way.


West Powelton Drummers (2:00 PM)
Representing West Powelton Since 1991, we started 25 years ago when Elsie Wise of the West Powelton Concerned Community Council strapped a couple drums onto girls from the neighborhood and the West Powelton Steppers were born. We continue in this tradition of community work in the West Powelton area as well as in urban areas up and down the Eastern Seaboard. Through parades, block parties, processions, and drum master classes we give youth hungry to learn that Philly sound and beat opportunities to learn invaluable skills on and off the drums.

Yoko Nakahashi Fellowship Ensemble (2:30 PM)
Also known by her buddhist name Laiyo, Yoko Nakahashi is ASCAP award winning contemporary composer, founder of Navy Yard Taiko, and taiko instructor for various institutions. Her composition has been performed by Neos Quartet, JACK Quartet, Taiko Masala, and many well-received musicians such as a Decimette lead by David Del Tredici. Laiyo has been appearing on WPIX, NY1 News, Fox5, and many others. Yoko has been internationally performing as a taiko drummer in various location such as USA, Japan, UK, Barbados et al. She has been certified to teach Osuwa Daiko music to various levels of taiko players. Yoko has been writing music and performing live sound effects for many theater groups, martial arts troops, and dance companies, as well as performing with groups and giving workshops internationally. Yoko is an official taiko instructor of Columbia Taiko, Brooklyn Nijinokakehashi Japanese Cultural Center, Biwanko, and guest instructor for schools and community based taiko groups, 2017 and 2019 NATC, and 2020 ECTC workshop leader, and she is a regular member of Taiko Masala the Brooklyn based taiko drumming company since 2006.

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Fairmount Park Horticulture Center

100 N Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131

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