Friday, January 25, 2008


It's Friday morning and I'm very relaxed - relatively speaking of course.

Relative to yesterday, when at this time I was already a little sweaty and a little clammy from nerves. We performed for the artists and staff of the Cirque du Soleil at their headquarters here in Montreal. A new show will be opening at Tokyo Disney this summer, the first resident show outside of North America. A theatre has been built especially for this new show, since it is scheduled to be there for the next ten years! Yesterday the Cirque was introducing its Tokyo performing artists and crew, and hired our group, Arashi Daiko, for a bit of noise.

We got to the community centre where we practice and store our taiko (drums) equipment, to sing through the pieces a few times and go over any last minute problems. The three of us performing were all a little distracted from nerves, and from the images of horror going through our minds - what if I forget what I'm supposed to play? what if I trip and fall? what if my bachi (drum stick) goes flying out of my hand? what if my pants fall down? what if I poke my eye out? what if I actually do vomit this time? Ok, so maybe I'm the only one whose mind wanders that much...

Upon mentioning how nervous we were at playing for THE Cirque, someone at our community centre adamantly said, "@*!#*$! They are the SAME as you and me, they are just human beings." Hmmm. Absolutely true. That simple statement really helped me breathe and enjoy a little. Odd, isn't it, how you can get so wrapped up in feelings of fear that can totally change how you perceive reality.

The Cirque's building is huge - a complex of offices, studios for designing, set building, costume sewing, creating, and huge practice areas for the performers. The main practice area was where we set up to play; we arrived in time to see some of the performers practicing before their lunch break. Wow.

We first played for some of the organization's directors who were having a meeting - we were told that we would be "waking them up a bit"! My bachi didn't fly into the crowd, and my pants stayed up, but the jingly bells attached to my okedo (portable drum worn over the shoulder) DID fall off. Hey, things happen, right? We paraded and played into the Cirque's three cafeterias to announce the introduction ceremony, inviting all the employees to attend. Fun! People who were simply trying to eat and talk over our clatter finally gave up when they saw we weren't stopping. Too much loudness to ignore.

Our set went well too, I think. The audience seemed to enjoy it. Phew. Phew...Phew! The best part of our experience was being fortunate enough to get a mini preview of some of the new show. This baton twirling/tossing/juggling guy from Japan did his beautiful routine, and a trapeze team did their crazy thing. Fear? FEAR?!!? What the heck is that?

All this was filmed for documentary purposes so maybe you'll see us in a Cirque dvd one day - hahaha!.

Since the new show is obviously top secret, we were not allowed to take any photos of our visit; I did, however get this shot of the dummy in the loading dock, who I take is used for examples of what NOT to do when working with the Cirque's heavy equipment and machinery - you'll note he's got no hands and one foot is going in the opposite direction. This is why they don't let the artists near the machines ;) ("Back AWAY from the electric saw...")

So our performance went alright, the sneak peek we were privy to was amaaazing, and highlighting it all was the warm and professional welcome we received. From the moment we arrived, we were well-taken care of; we had help unloading our equipment, someone keeping us up to date on schedule changes, and guides throughout the building complex so that we wouldn't get lost. An overall great experience with a wonderful organization who seemed to truly appreciate us too, so we were in turn able enjoy our experience !

Our next lofty goal: to get to Tokyo in the next couple of years and see this new show ☺


High Desert Diva said...

oh wow! yesterday I thought you were going to see a performance, not perform yourself!
How exciting for you!

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am sooo proud of my wee sistah! Fun to read about your exploits, Tatsuko.

Chocolate and Steel said...

Congratulations! I would have been totally freaked out (especially after seeing what they do to their dummys)

Hey Harriet said...

Wow! What an amazing experience playing for Cirque de Soleil must have been!
Drumming groups are so fun! I just started playing the Djembe (not very well though, but have heaps of fun with it ;)