We have an amazing lineup of instructors coming to CONNECT 2022! And because of the unique format of the conference, there’s no need for you to agonize over which workshops to sign up for…you just have to register and show up. 😉
12 hours of taiko with 4 phenomenal instructors. Don’t miss out: registration opens on February 5th!
Yurika Chiba began playing taiko in Tokushima, Japan in 1995 and joined San Jose Taiko’s Artistic Staff in 2007. As part of SJT, she performs locally, nationally, and internationally, leads rehearsals, classes, and workshops, and composes original works. She is a regular instructor at the North American Taiko Conferences, and was a panelist at the Women & Taiko Summer Taiko Institute in 2017. As a visual artist with a degree in Psychology, Yurika is deeply interested in the connection between tactile/rhythmic aesthetics and creativity in art and music as well as the applications of taiko/art to holistic and mental health. Yurika’s background in piano, dance, mixed media art, psychology and certification in TESOL combine in a unique mix to inform her work with taiko as an instrument for the individual’s expression of self and connection to community.
Ryo Shimamoto first encountered taiko at age 11 in his hometown of Yuasa in Wakayama Prefecture, where he still lives and performs taiko today. He led Shippu Uchi Daiko for 15 years and launched his career as a professional solo taiko performer and instructor in 2008. Ryo’s style of playing emphasizes sensitivity, power, and clarity. He received his odaiko training from former Kodo core player, Mr. Katsuji Kondo, and has won several awards for his odaiko performances at taiko competitions across Japan. Ryo is also an acclaimed composer whose pieces are performed by groups in Japan, Hong Kong, Europe, and the U.S.
Michelle Fujii & Toru Watanabe, Co-Directors of Unit Souzou, build creative, imaginative works while honoring the history and roots of the taiko art form. They met at Warabi-za, Japan’s foremost traditional folk dance troupe located in Northern Japan. Michelle was awarded the prestigious Bunka-cho fellowship from the Japanese government. Toru was a professional company member appearing in six original musical productions and teaching within Warabiza’s in-house residency program for youth. Through their 25 years of professional experience, both are recognized as relentless innovators, working with many North American and international taiko groups including San Jose Taiko, On Ensemble, Portland Taiko, TaikoArts Midwest and Kagemusha Taiko in the UK. In 2014, Fujii and Watanabe fused their unique skills to build Unit Souzou, a Portland-based taiko ensemble driven to create an expressive blend of taiko and Japanese folk dance, forging new traditions for evolving communities.
David Wells began his musical journey as a clarinet player under the guidance of his father, a professional jazz musician. In 2003, he discovered Stanford Taiko, performing internationally with the group and eventually serving as Artistic co-Director. Since then, David has trained extensively and has performed with such groups as the Kenny Endo Taiko Ensemble, TAIKOPROJECT, Prota, On Ensemble, and Unit Souzou. He is an instructor at the Los Angeles Taiko Institute, an enthusiastic workshop leader, and an avid composer.
Thanks to Bryce Craig, Sophia Emigh, Kim Nakashima, Joni Shimabukuro, and Yuen Designs for the photos of our instructors!