From Taiko to Tap with Kazunori Kumagai and Kaoru Watanabe
Fri 01 Jun 2018
7:00 PM - 8:15 PM
Asia Society Texas | 1370 Southmore Blvd., Houston, TX 77004
From taiko to tap, this lively performance features two remarkable artists together in a rhythm showcase. Japan’s award-winning tap dancer Kazunori Kumagai and the innovative multi-instrumentalist and composer Kaoru Watanabe will each perform solo before coming together at the end of the show for a rhythmic explosion.
Photo credit: Maiko Miyagawa
About the Program Directors
Kazunori Kumagai was born in Sendai City, Japan. He started tap dancing at the age of 15 and came to New York at the age of 19. He trained at Funk University, the training workshop for the hit Broadway musical Bring in da' Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. He studied with Ted Levy, Buster Brown, Gregory Hines, Barbara Duffy, and Derick K. Grant. Since then, he has performed in many New York City downtown clubs, such as The Knitting Factory, Tonic, and just recently he performed his solo show at the Blue Note NY. Since 2002, he has performed in Tony Waag’s Tap City, the New York City Tap Festival and was dubbed by The Village Voice as the "Japanese Gregory Hines." In 2006, he was selected as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." In 2014, He received the Flo-Bert Award, a prestigious award that honors tap dancers for outstanding achievements.
In 2008, he opened his first tap dance studio, KAZ TAP STUDIO, in Japan, and has subsequently taught throughout Japan including in his hometown of Sendai City, site of severe damage in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Kazu currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and tours all over the world. He recently won the "Bessie Award 2016" as an "Outstanding Performer."
Kaoru Watanabe is a Brooklyn based composer and musician, acclaimed for his innovative approach to powerful Japanese drums and the texturally rich melodies of the Japanese flutes with virtuosic, odd-meter improvisations. He has a passion for cross cultural and multi-disciplinary collaborations, working with such artists as National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, Jason Moran, So Percussion, Adam Rudolph, directors Wes Anderson and Martin Scorsese and was a featured guest on Yo-Yo Ma's Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home. Watanabe was a performer and artistic director of the internationally acclaimed Japanese taiko performing arts ensemble, Kodo, for close to a decade.
Watanabe has performed his compositions at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Kabukiza and in Minamiza, has performed in all 47 prefectures in Japan, as well as across the North, Central and South Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
About the Japan Foundation
The Japan Foundation, established in 1972, is Japan’s only institution dedicated to carrying out comprehensive international cultural exchange programs throughout the world. The mission of the Japan Foundation is to promote international cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Japan and other countries.