I'm proud to be involved in an activity that precedes mommyhood and that continues to be a passion in my life. I started playing taiko (Japanese drums) as a teenager, and have performed with 3 groups to date. I am currently a member of Arashi Daiko, which I joined at the beginning of 1998 right after moving to Montreal. What a fantastic group of people, and what a joy it is to play taiko with this group! I feel so privileged to know these members who collectively and individually, are so kind, generous, and genuine. And everyone is such a hard worker and shares this passion for taiko! I could go on and on, but I'll save details for another blog post.
Over the past several months, Arashi Daiko had been hard at work preparing for our 25th anniversary concert which took place March 13-15, 2009. As a community-based group, we are all volunteers with no paid staff, so we take care of all the administrative tasks as well as performance-related duties. So on top of 10 to 15 hours of practices each week (Friday nights, Saturday mornings and afternoons, Sunday mornings and afternoons), our members looked after equipment maintenance, ordering new equipment / instruments, designing and ordering the posters, t-shirts and programs, arranging for hall rental, sound and lighting technicians, video recording crew, costume designer, etc. We were writing / receiving over 60 emails a day in the weeks leading up to the concert, about all these matters, and this on top of the regular administrative duties we deal with in terms of communicating with the public, teaching Sunday classes, finding ways to advertise, maintaining the budget / accounts, etc. This project was a fulltime job on top of a fulltime job.
Here are the members making the kasa to be worn in a group dance piece, "Hana-awase", arranged by member Kayo Yasuhara.
I actually don't have any performance photos since we hired an official photographer and flash photography by audience members was prohibited. I'll try to find some to post at a later date (new costumes and everything!). But let me tell you, it was a great experience and we are so grateful to have had a fantastic backstage crew who ensured that everything ran smoothly from start to finish. Here is the happy crew:
After 3 consecutive days of concerts and the gazillion hours we put into the show, we were all spent but exhilerated. The following weekend Arashi Daiko's performing members along with our partners / families, went to a beautiful retreat called Jouvence (that was referred to us by my auntie) in Orford (Eastern Townships). We stayed in 2 beautiful cottages, and we spent time all together, sometimes in smaller groups, sometimes alone. The food was yummy and the hospitality wonderful. Mommy friends, talk to me about it because it was very baby / child friendly and the kids had an awesome time! Our members took advantage of the setting to spoil ourselves with massages, hottub / sauna time, nature walks, snowshoeing, toboganning, lounging around, etc. Here's a shot from the broomball game that some of the members played in. This was taken just as Michio was scoring a goal! The game had to be suspended when Yumi gave Sandra a fat lip, but that is a whole other story...
So now we are back to a mere 5 hours a week of scheduled practices, and gearing up for a busy spring / summer schedule that is already filling up. We are ready for this season, since now we are playing at a new level, with new repertoire / arrangements. Most importantly, we're breathing together and we are in tune to each other as to when it is important to be serious, and when to let loose and just enjoy each other's company.