On August 30, Unit Souzou said goodbye to a place that has been home, and also ushered in a powerful, energetic new tradition. The first ever TaikoWorks was a site specific show at the Jade APANO Multicultural Space (JAMS), a place that has been one of our company’s artistic homes since the inception of Unit Souzou 3 years ago. With JAMS scheduled for demolition in October in order to begin building an exciting affordable housing and community space, TaikoWorks provided one of the last opportunities to say farewell to an important hub of community empowerment.
The standing room only show brought audience members on a journey, quite literally, from room to room, sharing an immersive and emotional storytelling experience that pushed artistic boundaries between taiko, music, folk dance, performance, and visual story sharing. The show featured our new professional ensemble in their Portland debut, and the community group in collaboration for the first time ever. TaikoWorks included site specific versions of existing work as well as sharings of new and emerging pieces.
To develop the new pieces for TaikoWorks, each performer brought their own personal object of farewell as inspiration, including: Toru’s kimono, handmade by his grandmother who passed away last march; Scott’s chemotherapy port, which lived under his right collarbone for a year — “the port represents my survival, but also my farewell to the life I had before I was a cancer patient”; Abby’s “Memphis” cup, representing “a self I used to be many, many selves ago”; and Vicky’s piano sheet music, which was the last piano piece she played before she gave up the piano as a serious future.
It was a truly special evening of storytelling and connection. Goodbye JAMS we will miss you!