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North American Taiko Pioneer P.J. Hirabayashi to Share History of Japanese Drumming, Performance Techniques

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The College of Arts and Architecture’s Arts and Design Research Incubator (ADRI) will host North American taiko pioneer P.J. Hirabayashi, former artistic director of San Jose Taiko, at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 31, in 16 Borland Building. Her presentation, titled “TaikoPeace: Tapping into Embodied Knowledge and Authentic Power Through the Japanese Drum,” is free and open to the public.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Hirabayashi is a founding member of San Jose Taiko, the resident drumming group of San Jose Japantown. She and her husband, Roy Hirabayashi, later became the leaders of San Jose Taiko, with P.J. serving as artistic director and Roy as managing director. P.J. stepped down as artistic director in 2011.

Hirabayashi is currently working with Kimberly Powell, Penn State associate professor of education and art education, on a grant that explores walking and, more broadly, movement as sensory methodology. Part of their research includes the study of choreographed and/or aesthetic forms of movement that shape San Jose Japantown, such as the community performances by San Jose Taiko, which feature stylized and choreographed movements that mark and shape spaces and rhythms.

In her presentation, Hirabayashi will talk about the history of taiko drumming, her work with San Jose Taiko (one of the first taiko groups in the United States), and the ways in which she has explored identity, community building, social change and activism through taiko.

“P.J. will share some of her pedagogical and performance techniques in an effort to reveal and share taiko as an embodied practice,” said Powell. “There will also be some audience participation, so get ready to drum!”

All events at the ADRI are free and open to the public. Space is limited and RSVP is requested either via Facebook or at adri@psu.edu. For more on P.J. Hirabayashi, visit http://pjhirabayashi.com.