Odaiko Sonora

Odaiko Sonora

Tucson, Arizona, United States

Founded May 2002

Basic Information

    Community based group
    Director, Assistant Director, volunteers
    Instruction, performance

Background Information


MISSION: Odaiko Sonora/Rhythm Industry strives to uphold and expand the instruction and performance of cultural arts practices. Through classes, workshops, performance and maintenance of an incubator space we hope to increase the understanding of cultural arts practices and the opportunities they present for physical, mental, and spiritual growth, and building community. GOALS: 1. To increase first-hand knowledge of taiko and the opportunities it presents for physical, mental, and spiritual growth throughout southern Arizona. 2. To support arts and culture activities through performance, instruction, residencies and workshops. 3. To provide critical art space for cultural arts practices.

Describe the ensemble's organizational structure and philosophy, including leadership structure, membership policy, and instructional process.

Our leadership consists of a Director, Assistant Director, and volunteer Board of Directors. Numerous volunteers include performers/instructors and production staff, costume and drum making/maintenance, merchandise and table staff, cooks, photographers, videographers, and, of course, the student players. We currently have one full-time contracted Executive/Admin. Director, part time Assistant Director, bookkeeper, and facility manager. Although there is one Director (who is also a founder of the group), decisions include a great deal of consensus based decision-making. Our dojo culture is a semi-strict. The use of Japanese terms, knowledge of the history and traditions of taiko are emphasized, as are the concepts of ki, kata, rei and shoshin. Our group's stated principles are Sound, Mind, Body and Spirit. In addition to these, we strive to infuse the knowledge and discipline with a large dose of fun and fellowship. Beyond due respect for the art form and its traditions, our aspirations are community engagement, personal growth/well being, and artistic excellence. The membership consists of: 1) A professional/semi-professional Performing Ensemble (PEM) 2) Two weekly Performing Understudy Practices (PUP) 3) An ongoing Community Group (CG) led by a senior members. The CG is all ages, and designed to challenge individuals and provide for their success. 5) Students in All Ages Recreational Taiko (AART) sessions After one to six All Ages Recreational Taiko (AART) classes, students may request to join the CG, which meets each Saturday, 10am–noon. This group performs approximately five times a year. Each CG member pays a monthly dues and agrees to adhere to the group's guidelines. Student dues go towards studio maintenance, purchasing and maintaining equipment, and travel and hospitality costs for performances and master classes. CG members can stay for the Saturday PUP if they seek greater challenge and opportunities for performing. From there, they may ask, or be invited to attend Wed. PUP. Players who wish to pursue taiko performance as a serious life path may be invited to attend PEM practices. Two one-hour sessions on Saturday mornings help players transition from AART to CG, and help PUP attendees work on their skills. In addition to taiko instruction, Odaiko Sonora is committed to bringing taiko to Tucson residents and schools through performances, workshops, residencies, and team-building workshops. The group is also committed to raising the level of taiko instruction available in Arizona (and to nurturing the national and international field) by bringing numerous master teachers to Tucson. As a part of the southern AZ community, Odaiko Sonora is active with the Southern AZ Japanese Cultural Coalition, UA Asian Pacific Islander Diversity Council, and the TUSD Asian Pacific American Studies Dept. We receive public funding from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Arts Foundation for Southern AZ. Our private sector donors include foundation, corporate and private individuals.

Group History
Describe how, where, and why the ensemble was founded. What was its inspiration?

Odaiko Sonora traces its roots to MoGan Daiko and sensei Stan Morgan. Mr. Morgan retired in 2002, and our founders, who had been playing with MoGan Daiko, launched Odaiko Sonora to keep taiko alive in southern Arizona. Those early days were marked by vital support from Phoenix's Fushicho Daiko, Esther Vandecar, Eileen Morgan and Tony Trapasso. Odaiko Sonora's first performance took place in June 2002, and the group hasn't looked back. Constantly working to improve artistry, we have grown from that first session at Challenger Middle School to host our own self-produced concerts. Performance numbers have increased every year: In FY 2019, we completed over 40 performances, multi-day/year-long school residencies and numerous other kinds of gigs. Other performing artists have recognized the energy and potential of taiko, leading to collaborations with modern dance, pyrotechnic circus arts, improv and other performing companies. In 2006, Odaiko Sonora took a huge risk aimed at supporting not only our own group's future, but the future of many other mid-sized local performing arts groups. We purchases a 5,000 sq ft warehouse as a performing arts incubator for large, loud art forms. You can read more about Rhythm Industry Performance Factory at www.rhythmindustry.org Odaiko Sonora has always worked to provide consistently high quality taiko to the region, requiring that members train with master instructors. Members travel extensively to study, and the group brings master teachers to Tucson each year. To that end, Performing Ensemble members receive an annual training stipend for travel, workshops, and one-on-one training with taiko masters. Odaiko Sonora believes strongly in community service. We actively engagein outreach to underserved audiences through workshops, cultural exchange programs, and free concerts. We have, since our beginnings, donated performances free, or at greatly reduced cost, to benefits and fundraisers, including Relay for Life, the Pan-Asian Community Alliance and Tucson Chinese Cultural Center, Oasis Center for Sexual Assault, Parent Aid and others. We have participated in K-12 events such as Vail Pride Day and Drexel Arts Day, and provide school residencies for kids throughout southern Arizona. We have also initiated and/or participated in several disaster relief events with other local arts and cultural groups. Responding to strong demand for offerings, the group has expanded programs to encompass more than taiko performance and instruction. The drums are an excellent vehicle for leadership and team-building, and in 2004 we began offering these sessions regularly to several University departments and national conference attendees.


Karen Falkenstrom


List of Members: Nicole Stansbury Nancy Hall Sonya Evans Rebecca Bushner Board Members: Kathy Bender-Coin Kerrie Green Ali Boelts Ian Boelts Sydney Takigawa


List a selection of your regular performance venues (for example, Denver Sakura Matsuri, Seabrook obon, business conventions, Manzanar Pilgrimage, Maui Marathon, etc.)

UA Student Center for Involed Leadership Retreat Tucson Meet Yourself All Souls Procession Tucson Marathon Parade of Lights Tucson Japanese Festival AZ Matsuri 2nd Saturday Downtown

List the instructors, teachers and mentors who have worked with the ensemble.

Instructors, Teachers & Mentors Stanley Morgan, MoGan Daiko Esther Vandecar, Eileen Morgan, Tony Trapasso Fushicho Daiko Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Sacramento Taiko Dan San Jose Taiko members Shidara various KASA instructors Taiko Project, On Ensemble, Unit Souzou members and others Members have attended: NATC Summer Taiko Institute International Taiko Convention, Hawai'i Portland Taiko Intensive KASA programs San Jose Taiko Weekend Intensive Sonoma/Grass Valley Taiko Camp Taiko Awakening the Spirit, Crestone, CO Shidara Residencies Kasuga Onigumi Omatsuri training and performance

Taiko Collaborators
List a selection of taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Sascha Molina, Susan Tanabe, Shoji Kameda, Aki Takahashi, and many others Teachers who have taught their work and performed it with us Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Sascha Molina, Shoji Kameda, Aki Takahashi, Unit Souzou, Taiko Project, Kaoru Watanabe, Fushicho Daiko San Jose Taiko, and others

List a selection of non-taiko players or groups that have collaborated with the ensemble.

OTO Dance To-Reé-Neé Wolf Keiser McArdle Brachiate Theatre Flam Chen/Tucson Circus Arts Funhouse Movement Theater Theatrical Mime Theatre of Tucson Batucaxé Rogue Theatre

List a selection of publicly accessible audio and/or video recordings featuring the ensemble.

Southern AZ Taiko Showcase videos 2004, 2005, 2006, YouTube and Vimeo, Facebook, etc


Karen Falkenstrom
5732 E 2nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85711
(520) 481-8003


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