It’s a groovy way to spend a Thursday.
A combination of music and martial arts, Nancy Mullick is spearheading the scene for Yellowknife Taiko drumming.
The art form, which has roots in Japan, is an ensemble of two or more drummers performing together for an audience. She describes the drumming as a combination of “mind, body and spirit.”
There’s a lot of physicality in the performance,” she said. “You kind of come at it with your whole self.”
Looking to share her love of Taiko, Mullick began instructing Taiko classes in town last fall.
“There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm to having eight students in the room and it’s really satisfying to watch them evolve over the eight weeks in the class,” Mullick said of the sessions she’s taught so far.
Mullick’s Taiko lessons run each Thursday at the Collective Soul Space. The latest session, which started earlier this month, is her third go at the course.
In the eight-week sessions, Mullick said students go from the basics of how to stand and hold the sticks, to playing short compositions.
This Thursday’s class with be the fourth of the term. The students, ranging from their early 20s to early 80s, last learned the Doro Oroshi exercise – a choreographed movement involving two strong individual strikes followed by a sustained drum roll. The transition between the extensive arm movements and the roll is one that takes control, Mullick said.
On bringing her love of Taiko to the classroom, Mullick said “it’s exciting that there’s so much interest in Yellowknife in this art form.”
Mullick was first introduced to Taiko at the 2008 Folk on the Rocks festival. Watching the performance “was a really significant experience for me,” she said. Mullick then spent a month taking a Taiko intensive course in Vancouver the following year.
SkyFire, Mullick’s Taiko performance group, has played shows internationally, including at Yellowknife’s own Ramble and Ride.
She said she looks forward to having audiences gather for Taiko once again as soon as public health measures allow.