"Music gives voice to oppression. Music brings attention to oppression. Music brings opposition to oppression. And music brings power to the people.
Taiko is an art rooted in power, demanding your recognition of its power. Kumidaiko, the group play style you will experience here tonight, is an exercise in how much more powerful we are in collaboration. In how much louder we can be. In how much harder we are to ignore.
And this is RAW. This is Raging Asian Womxn—a powerhouse group using their individual power as an even stronger collective. They are dedicated to speaking truth to their lived experiences and providing a platform for those who have been encouraged to remain silent.
Taiko—as RAW plays it—is a challenge to every dangerous silence.
Every hit of a drum reverberates with the life it is made from—the wood of trees, the hide of cows and buffalo, the human hands that crafted it—and those waves of life and energy and motion come together to strike you, a life in the here and now. So be present. Be excited. Be cared for. Be caring. Be thoughtful. Be enraged. Be uncomfortable.
Tonight, sit in the comfort of discomfort. Feel in your bones what can resound through drums played for generations. Feel in your soul what has demanded to be acknowledged and fought for for generations. Be moved by what is radical in rage and in resilience.
Let your heart be open, let your status quos be challenged, and let your feelings be RAW. Please welcome to the stage, Raging Asian Womxn."
- Harper Ross (Oberlin College Taiko member, introducing RAW) Feb 2023
Carrianne Leung review of Crooked Lines (2017)
“I have been attending the Taiko troupe’s performances since its earliest incarnation in the 1990s. I have witnessed its members come and go and come, as the group shed skin again and again, born anew, ever reincarnating. Regardless of its various forms and members, I have always been humbled to witness their rage - a rage at its more vulnerable, most raw and most beautiful in their power.
What happens at a RAW Taiko performances? There is the simplicity of the act - a gesture of arm and hand and stick across the taunt skin of a barrel. A gentles caress at one moment and a thunderous power the next. To see women who look like me, share something of what I know deeply in my body, is a powerful experience, one that leaves me full and electric.
The drums take all of what the performers release and offer back language to articulate the joy, sorrow, rage, celebration, what is possible, what has not been but can be. In other words, the drums teak stories, awaken history; stir our lives from their uneasy places. The drums call us back to memory, memories that reach beyond us to face generations of women, ghosts that came before, invited by the drums to dance.
I am often in tears after a performance, overwhelmed emotions and an experience that haven’t yet founds words and can only be told through movement, beats, grace. The drums give. It’s a gift, and I leave in gratitude, walking out of a theatre, dispersed in a crowd, meeting the eyes of strangers with a strange new knowing."
Ways to find joy in moving your body - CBC Radio 1, March 24 2022 (RAW at minute 15:30)
These badass women are taking over the traditionally male-dominated art of taiko drumming - CBC Arts, December 14 2017
Embodying Empowerment: Raging Asian Women’s Toronto Taiko Festival - Sara Constant (TheWholeNote), August 9 2017
Twelve-woman collective rage with joy, embrace vulnerability - Julia Leconte (NOW Magazine), Dec 5 2013
Dance, storytelling and drumming cross over for a breathtaking experience - Samantha Edwards (NOW Magazine), Dec 9 2013
‘Water Warriors” recruited - Joe Chin (Mississauga News), Mar 9 2010
Asian collective drums up common bond - Scott Simmie (TheStar), Aug 15 2007