“When I first saw taiko, it was an unexpected revelation. My reaction was emotional, visceral, and something else — something that surprised me — the voice of the drums was the spirit of my ancestors, speaking to me…when I joyously gaze at the mountain from the outdoor stage at ShastaYama, I reflect on the journey that brought me to this place. I know that my life in taiko has come full circle.” — Jeanne Mercer
Full Circle (comp. Mercer) is one of Shasta Taiko’s signature pieces, inspired by nature: the spectacular beauty of both Mount Shasta and Jeanne’s home state of Alaska. Its intent is to express the unity, balance, and cycles of life – and life’s interconnectedness – in two movements: a choreographed kumidaiko section with challenging rhythm patterns, followed by a solo and duet section, showcasing interpretation and counterpoint.
Jeanne’s unique perspective in taiko is from several influences: ten years with San Francisco Taiko Dojo, “The rigorous training under Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka challenged my limits of physical endurance and mental toughness while at the same time allowing my creativity and spirit to come forth;” building Shasta Taiko with renowned jazz musician and life partner Russel Baba (workshop assistant instructor); and mentoring both her own family (taiko leader Masato Baba) and a robust taiko community in a remote town.
Experiencing the Full Circle LegacyLab is, of course, about learning a piece only shared within Shasta Taiko. But spending the day with Jeanne is an invaluable lesson about composition, community, the jazz influence on taiko, melding tradition and self, and how to support and grow the diaspora of taiko in both a remote area and the community at large.
All proceeds from this event will be used for Tanaka Sensei’s medical travel and out-of-pocket health care expenses.