Taiko drummers take Crazy Horse to Curacao

POSTED: 06/14/13 12:24 PM

St. Maarten  – St. Maarten’s National Institute of Arts will send six talented young students to a performing arts showcase in Curacao this weekend.  NIA’s all-girl Taiko Drumming Ensemble will play alongside more than 40 other children and teens for Circo Magik’s Silk at the World Trade Center.

It will be the third time that NIA is slated to perform Crazy Horse, a lengthy and rhythmic drum piece, with Circo Magik.

Silk is based on a Chinese fable about making the exquisite material of the same name.  It incorporates Western and African musical influences along with acrobatics.

Students Lisa Speetjens, Zoe van Zadelhoff, Jasmine Grannum, Deveny Elferink, Victoria Fong and Robyn Holiday are looking forward to performing in Curacao, said Arlene Halley, co-director of NIA.

She said adults will be in supporting roles, such as the emperor and other characters, but the children are the stars of the show.  “There are adults in it, but they don’t do the acrobatics,” Halley said.

The girls leave for Curacao on Friday morning. They are scheduled to perform two shows that night — at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. — and then return to St. Maarten the next morning.

For taiko teacher Jennifer Halley, the pace is not a concern. She said her students know the piece well and that they just need a live rehearsal to sync with the rest of the ensemble.  “It’s a piece they have been doing for over a year,” Jennifer Halley said. “It was a matter of refreshing it and cleaning it up.”

She added with a smile: “We know the routine, but of course, it’s exciting to go do it in Curacao.”

Taiko first arrived at the former Motiance Dance School in 2011. A year later, taiko master Bruce Ghent led a two-week workshop where Crazy Horse was perfected. Taiko is a traditional Japanese art form, usually performed only by men. Drummers wield wooden sticks called bachi and pose in a drumming stance while performing. Performances can last several minutes with the drummers switching tempos throughout the song.

The arts institute last performed in Silk at the Philipsburg Cultural and Community Center in February. Both shows were sold out.

The National Institute of Arts was born of the marriage of Motiance Dance School and Imbali Center for Creative Movement. Clara Reyes, Imbali founder, serves as the director of the musical theater department.  The new arts institute will expand its offerings to include visual arts and sound production.  The two schools have been teaching dance and theater for more than 40 years combined.


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