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September 2009 Archives

September 19, 2009

COBU 2009 in EN

cobu.jpg

COBU is all female Japanese dance ensemble, founded by STOMP veteran Yako Miyamoto, that mashes together traditional Japanese taiko drumming, American funk tap dance, and martial arts along with African djembe drums, samisens (Japanese banjos), shime-daikos (small drums), and narukos (wooden clappers).  (COBU reportedly translates as "Dance Like Drumming, Drumming Like Dance.") Anything percussive, like drumming and tap, suckers me right in, and COBU's combination of all-things-percussive constitutes my perfect storm.  The eighty-minute performance never flags in energy and enjoyment, though it has its higher points, such as in "Dope," a tap duo with Miyamoto and Hana Ogata done in a circle of downlight that perfectly melds hip-hop moves and rhythms with tap, creating something vibrant and new.  And when all the company members are waling away on the taiko drums, the bass waves resonate in the sternum and power surges through the whole skeleton. While the individual numbers were all well-choreographed and executed, they often ended in a way that didn't immediately signal the piece was done, and by the time audience applauded, the performers were already into getting the next piece set.  Sharper "buttons" would help.  Also, the transitions from one to the next needed more clarity and crispness so that the generated energy didn't have time to dissipate.  The whole performance just needs to be a bit tighter and seamless. But this is a small quibble.  COBU's EN, which means "perfect combustion," is exactly that: fiery, fierce, and fun, a combustion of delight.

Michael Bettencourt

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