nytheatre.com review by Mitchell Conway
September 18, 2009
The rhythm and spectacle of EN is enthralling. What a great show! The all-female Japanese percussion ensemble COBU's combination of Taiko drumming, tap dance, and a wide array of other rhythmic styles, is both compelling and charming.
My favorite part of the show is the Taiko drumming. This beautiful art form combines a martial arts style dance and hitting a heavy bass. Taiko seems to be as much about the form as the rhythm. It is both elegant and vigorous. But COBU takes it one notch further; its performers tap dance while drumming. It's quite amazing to watch.
Every part of the show is different in its style and its component percussion instruments. From djembe (smaller drum), to shamisen (three stringed guitar), to body clapping, the show drives forward with a sense that anything could be next.
Every member of the group is a strong performer, but the founder and director of the company, Yako Miyamoto, has such a total command of the space and unequivocal sense of rhythm that her presence is a source of beauty in the show that brings it out of the realm of the performative, into the spiritual. (And trust me, I don't usually make comments like that.)
That is not to understate the talent and strength of the rest the ensemble, which is matched by a great sense of ensemble. Whether they are focused with a combination of severity and serenity, or thoroughly enjoying themselves as they adopt a mid-'80s hip-hop sensibility, the close connection of the group is apparent.
Words are hardly adequate as a medium for communicating the experience of this show. Feel the rhythm, the joy, and the profundity for yourself if you can catch COBU any time soon.