REDONDO BEACH — As the art of taiko drumming continues to gain popularity throughout the world, the art of eisa, or Okinawan festival drumming, has also gained popularity. Though there are many eisa groups in existence, Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko is perhaps one of the most internationally recognized for its fusion of odori (traditional dance) and karate movements.
Performers dance and drum simultaneously to an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary Okinawan and Japanese music. Drummers use several types of drums: the odaiko (big drum), which is suspended in front of the body by long pieces of purple cloth over the shoulder and back; the shime-daiko (hand-held, flat, two-sided drum); and finally, the paranku (hand-held, flat, one-sided drum).
Founded in 1982, Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko has branches across Japan, Hawaii, North America, and South America. In 2012, the main branch in Okinawa celebrated its 30th anniversary and this year, Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko-Los Angeles Branch (RMDLA) is proud to celebrate 20 years of spreading the Okinawan spirit across Southern California.
To mark this momentous occasion, RMDLA will be holding its first-ever concert, entitled “Uchinaa Chimu Don-Don: Heartbeat of Okinawa,” on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 5 p.m. at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center, 1935 Manhattan Beach Blvd. in Redondo Beach.
This anniversary concert will showcase how the Okinawan spirit can form friendships that overcome the barriers of distance, time, and language. Over the last 20 years, performances by RMDLA have forged lifelong friendships with members of the local, national, and international Okinawan communities. These bonds are so strong that they will be joined by over 20 performing members of sister branches from Miyako Island (Saitama Prefecture), Peru, Brazil, Ohio, Texas and Okinawa, to drum together as one.
Add to the mix collaborations with local musicians from Afuso Ryu Kenkyuu Choichi Kai Los Angeles, performing minyo with the Okinawan sanshin (three-stringed instrument), and traditional Okinawan dance by Majikina Honryu Ryubu Dojo Aigen no Kai, and the audience will experience the heartbeat of Okinawa as it has never been felt before in California.
Tickets are $20 for general admission and free for children 5 years old and younger (ticket required). To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.rmdlosangeles.org/20th or www.facebook.com/rmdlosangeles; or call (424) 271-2251. Tickets are also available at the Okinawa Association of America office, (310) 532-1929. You may also follow them on Twitter (@rmdlosangeles) or Instagram (@rmd.losangeles).