GenRyu Arts to Celebrate 16th Anniversary

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Melody Takata was congratulated by State Sen. Mark Leno at GenRyu Arts' 15th anniversary concert last year.

SAN FRANCISCO — “Natsu Matsuri” (Summer Festival), GenRyu Arts’ 16th anniversary concert, will be held on Saturday, July 23, at 6 p.m. at the Chinese Culture Center, 750 Kearny St. (third floor of the Hilton Hotel-Financial District), San Francisco.

GenRyu Arts will celebrate 16 years of serving the Japanese and Asian American communities. The concert will feature Gen Ensemble, Gen Taiko and Odori School; Tatsu Aoki and Amy Homma with their group Tsukasa Taiko of Chicago; and master artist Hideko Nakajima.

GenRyu Arts was founded as Gen Taiko in 1995 and incorporated as GenRyu Arts in August 2008. Its mission is to promote, present and participate in Japanese and Japanese American culture through taiko and other traditional and contemporary music and dance forms.

Deeply rooted in San Francisco’s Japantown and in the Asian American community, GenRyu Arts engages in art-making that merges the Japanese cultural forms of taiko, dance and folk songs with new music, spoken word and visual design into singular expressions that honor community heritage and address key issues stemming from the legacy of internment and redevelopment.

GenRyu Arts is directed by its founder, Melody Takata, a multifaceted artist trained in Japanese classical dance, taiko and shamisen. She has been performing for over 20 years in the U.S. and Japan.

Takata grew up in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles with a rich experience in traditional arts. From age 8 she learned odori Nishi Hongwanji as part of the Obon Festival. At age 10 she began formal study of Nihon buyo (Japanese classical dance) at the Fujima School and performed under Madame Fujima Kansuma until age 20.

Tatsu Aoki of Chicago's Tsukasa Taiko.

From age 13 to 18 she studied shamisen with the Kineya School. At 15 she began studying and performing with Los Angeles Matsuri Taiko and at 20 traveled to Japan to study with and later perform as a member of Tokyo’s O Edo Sukeroku Taiko, one of that nation’s most renowned taiko ensembles.

Takata completed the ACTA (Alliance for California Traditional Arts) master apprentice program for 2002-03 on shamisen with Nakajima Sensei. Most recently, Takata has re-established study with Madame Kansuma in Los Angeles to strengthen her integrity of Nihon buyo and to ensure a high standard of integration of odori into Gen Taiko’s repertoire.

The concert is presented by Asian Improv aRts, Chinese Cultural Center, GenRyu Arts, and Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. Funders: San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grants, ACTA, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Grants for the Arts, National Endowments for the Arts, California Arts Council, The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation.

For more information or to order tickets, visit www.genryuarts.org.

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