Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko - Los Angeles Branch
Founded 1982 (Okinawa); 1995 (Los Angeles Branch)
|Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko (Okinawa Headquarters)|
|Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko|
|Branch Leader (Shibu-Cho); Asst. Branch Leader (Fukushibu-cho); Coordinator|
|Performing Arts Group|
Group's Mission and Motivation
The Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko (Ryukyu Kingdom Festival Drums) was formed in Okinawa in 1982 by former members of an Okinawan city youth group.Takeo Medoruma, a founding member and present director, was intent on capturing the spirit of Okinawa through the drum and dance of Okinawan taiko, and sharing it with the world. He inspired the youth of Okinawa to find joy in the practice of self-discipline, diligence and teamwork, to create a performing art which brings joy to others.
Structure and Philosophy
Describe the ensemble's organizational structure and philosophy, including leadership structure, membership policy, and instructional process.
The Los Angeles Branch is guided by the branch leader, with the help of the assistant branch leader. They also work with the Coordinator to determine future performances of the group. All choreography to selected songs are created in the Okinawa headquarters. The choreography is taught to members of the L.A. branch by teachers from Okinawa. The advanced, experienced members of the L.A. branch teach the new students. Membership is open to young people of all racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds.
Describe how, where, and why the ensemble was founded. What was its inspiration?
Yasukazu Takushi, Doreen Tamanaha Whiteley and Aiko Tokunaga, then President of the Okinawa Association of America, Inc. Geino-Bu (Performing Arts Division)were instrumental in the formation of the Los Angeles Branch in 1995. They had seen a marvelous performance in Washington D.C. by the Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko from Okinawa, and were inspired to form an L.A. branch.Their motivation was to excite the interest of the young people in the community, and especially the Okinawan community, to the passion of Okinawan taiko and the appreciation of Okinawan culture. The OAA donated the odaiko drums to the group.
List of Founding Members
Fumihide Itokazu, Michiyo Itokazu, Miyoko Itokazu, Kriste Kamiya, Tracie Onaha, Alice Shima, Miki Takushi, Marcella Wagner, Theresa Yamauchi
Performances, Recordings, Publications
List a selection of your regular performance venues (for example, Denver Sakura Matsuri, Seabrook obon, business conventions, Manzanar Pilgrimage, Maui Marathon, etc.)
Okinawa Assoc. of America (OAA) New Year Party, Annual Picnic, and Bazaar, OAA Geino-Bu Annual Spring Show, various Nikkei groups' New Year celebrations, KSCI-TV Lunar New Year Festival, Hawaiian Okinawa Club of Cal.'s "Aloha Picnic", Japanese Cultural Institute Carnival, Higashi Honganji Obon, E. San Gabriel Obon Festival, Seicho-No-Ie Obon, various obon festivals, "Haru Uta Matsuri", Murasaki Karaoke Show, various karaoke programs, Monterey Park Cherry Blossom Festival, Gedatsu Church Autumn Moon Festival, Gardena Heritage Festival, L.A. Sister City Festival, L.A. County Fair's Asian Pacific Islander Festival, Tofu Festival, Nisei Week's Coronation Ball, Parade, "Kohaku Utagassen" and Taiko Gathering, Cal. State Univ., Long Beach, Chi Delta Theta Sorority's "Cultural Awareness Expo", Soka Univ.'s "International Festival", Hawaii Okinawa Festival, World Uchinanchu Business'Eisa Festival, various ethnic carnivals and festivals, Keiro, JACCC "Stars Shine" Benefit Show, Asian Rehabilitation Services Comedy Night, Diamond Bar Lion's Club "Drums for Sight" Benefit, A3M's "Starnight*Starbright" Benefit Show, Cystic Fibrosis' Great Strides 10K Walk, various charity benefits, Mitsuwa Okinawan Food Fair, National Kendo Tournament Farewell Banquet, San Diego Karate Tournament, various private banquets and weddings.
Musical & Performance Styles
Describe the ensemble's musical and performance styles.
Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko's type of drum dancing is based on the old tradition of "eisa" (Okinawan obon drum dancing), but has a distinctive style of high kicks, karate moves and synchronized dance choreography. The performers dance and drum simultaneously, to music that is an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Okinawan and Japanese music. They perform with several types of drums: the odaiko (big drum), which is suspended in front of the body by a long piece of cloth over the shoulder and back, the shime-daiko (hand-held, flat, two-sided drum), and the paranku (hand-held, flat, one-sided drum).