Taiko! Percussive storytelling comes to Montana

Unit Souzou performs in Helena April 15 and TaikoProject lands in Billings April 29

On Stage

Two Taiko troupes bring their percussive talents to Montana this month with Unit Souzou performing 7:30 p.m. April 15 at The Myrna Loy in Helena, and TaikoProject, 7:30 p.m. April 29 at the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings.

Unit Souzou premieres A Constant State of Otherness at The Myrna Loy.
Unit Souzou premieres A Constant State of Otherness April 15 at The Myrna Loy.

Unit Souzou premieres “A Constant State of Otherness” April 15 at The Myrna Loy. Experience the drama of taiko – a Japanese-born tradition that blends percussion, movement, and storytelling. This performance marks the world premiere of a new work, created partly in Helena in 2019-21, that explores our sense of otherness, alienation, belonging, and home.

The community helped shape and define piece, so the audience will be hearing familiar voices, rhythms, and stories as interpreted through this ancient and oh-so-contemporary art form. The Unit Souzou ensemble will be in Helena for a week-long residency, sponsored by First Interstate Bank and supported by National Performance Network and National Theater Project.

Tickets are $24 and available by phone or online, at the box office in Helena or by calling 406-443-0287.

The TaikoProject, performing at the Alberta Bair Theater in Billings April 29, was founded in 2000 by a group of young, emerging taiko drummers led by Bryan Yamami and Masato Baba. The show continues to define a modern American style of taiko, blending traditional forms with an innovative and fresh aesthetic.

The first American taiko group to win the prestigious Tokyo International Taiko Contest in 2005 has performed and recorded with Stevie Wonder, Usher, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Kanye West, and more, with appearances on the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards.

“This ain’t your mama’s taiko, but it may be your hip, younger cousin’s,” writes the LA Weekly.

Tickets are $13-$37 and available online, by calling 406-256-6052 and at the ABT box office, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and two hours before shows.