Malibu, California – As the sun steadily sank into the Pacific Ocean just before 6:00 p.m. on February 11th, turning the golden brown rolling hills surrounding Pepperdine University into an abysmal glob of protruding land mass, a group of Jap
anese stage performers gathered in the dressing rooms inside Smothers Theater, the on-campus performing arts center.
Prepping for its 12th performance on its 34-date United States tour, the men and women who made up TAO had only one thing on their collective minds — give the jam-packed theater a show they will never forget.
Short of someone hitting their head hard on the concrete floor and subsequently suffering from a severe case of amnesia, everyone who filled the house at Smothers Theater (and every other venue since the tour started in Calgary on January 26th) has witnessed a show like they have never witnessed before.
In fact, to call it a “show” would be a grave injustice. Let’s call it an “experience that will literally take your breath away” instead.
Indeed, audience members were constantly caught trying to catch their collective breaths, almost as if all 300-plus people in attendance were beating on the massive 800-pound, six-foot-circumference drums adorning the elaborately simplistic stage.
And there they were, more than a dozen drummers in beautiful Japanese costumes taking the stage with a varied combination of drums, flutes, gongs and cymbals, taking this Malibu audience on a journey like no other for nearly two hours on Thursday night.
Throughout the breathtaking escapade they call The Martial Art of Drumming, the young men and women of TAO showed off their well-toned athletic bodies as they combine the traditional art of Taiko drumming with Western choreography, lighting and performance.
With ever-so-shifting sets to allow for different combinations of performers, lighting and Asiatic instruments, TAO entertained its audience here in Malibu in such a fashion, the abysmal glob of protruding land mass that was the rolling hills of Pepperdine University started to experience a geological shift of plates.
At show’s end, any audience member who could still feel his or her hands while breathing normally was probably living in a different universe. After all, if you were not vigorously clapping your hands, you were attempting to take deep breaths to bring your heart-rate back down to humanly normal digits.
All the while, you were also trying to take in what is perhaps the greatest spectacle of a performing arts program you may have ever witnessed in this lifetime, and it was TAO who delivered such a breathtaking experience in what they call The Martial Art of Drumming.
There will never be a sufficiently righteous string of adjectives available in the English language to describe the TAO experience. No review, including this one, can bring proper justice to this performing arts journey. Ultimately, all these words are potentially capable of doing is urging you, the reader, to find a way to experience TAO in person if and when they are at a performing arts center near you.
With the Pacific Northwest and Northern California segments already complete, TAO and The Martial Art of Drumming will still be in Southern California for a few more days, visiting Cal State Los Angeles today (February 13th) and Glendora on Valentine’s Day before heading out to San Diego and Palm Desert on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Then the drummers head east through Arizona, Texas and beyond, as they complete their 34-date United States tour, only to be followed by an Australian tour later this year.
To see if TAO will be in your town, check out its schedule.
This is an experience you do not want to let pass you by.