Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers
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"Raging Asian Women Taiko Drummers (RAW) is a community arts collective of East and Southeast Asian Women in Toronto. We are a Taiko drumming group that exists as a critical response and challenge to both systemic and internalized oppressions. Through performance, education, and community outreach, we seek to challenge, redefine and represent ourselves, and to inspire ourselves and others. Through collective membership, artistic creation, and active development, we carve space for self-expression, authentic engagement, community, and healing.
RAW was formed in 1998 as one of the only all-women taiko groups in North America, by three former members of Wasabi Daiko. RAW traces its lineage through the North American taiko movement’s unique history, one that is integrally linked to the Asian American Movement of the 1960s and 1970s when Asian Americans and Canadians mobilized en masse around issues of racial equality, social justice, and political empowerment.
RAW has performed at a wide variety of events including Pride celebrations in Toronto and Buffalo NY, Dim Sum Chinese Festival as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Routes Summer Festivals, Muhtadi International Drumming Festival in Toronto and Tobago, Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts, Toronto’s WinterCity Festival, Labour union conventions, International Women’s Day events, art festivals, social justice events… and more!
RAW’s current drums were built during the summer of 2004 by its members, using resources and wine barrels generously donated by Jim Hedges, co-owner of Canadian Oak, a small wine barrel company run out of a farm in St. George, Ontario where RAW members spent many weekends building drums. 2004 was also the year that marked many changes for RAW and set the group on an upward journey of renewal and growth, with the new drums representing this dedication and newfound energy.
Since its inception in 1998, RAW has largely been a self-taught group, with senior members passing on knowledge to newer members, and with each member collectively supporting each other’s learning. Over the years, RAW members have also gained skills through occasional workshops, lessons and intensives with Yoshikazu Fujimoto, Masami Miyazaki and Eiichi Saito (of KODO), Ryutaro Kaneko (formerly of KODO), Kiyoshi Nagata and Aki Takahashi (of Nagata Shachu), Roy and PJ Hirabayashi (of San Jose Taiko), Tiffany Tamarabuchi (of Sacramento Taiko Dan), and Megan Chao Smith (formerly of Shidara). Several members have also participated in the KASA/Mix tour to Sado Island, and the North American Taiko Conference and Summer Taiko Institute over the years.
Through Artistic Development Grants from the Toronto Arts Council in 2006 and 2010, and the Community One Foundation (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal Foundation) in 2008, RAW has been able to bring in various artists to work with the group in furthering its members’ skills in movement, performance and taiko, as well as offer taiko workshops to the community."
"Television: Echo, Sun TV (December 17, 2005) CBC News at Six, CBC Television (March 2, 2006) Asian Inspiration, Rogers Television (October 11, 2007) Canoe Live, Sun TV (October 17, 2007) Timeless Magazine, Fairchild TV (February 13, 2008) Breakfast Television, Citytv (February 12, 2009)
Radio: Metro Morning, CBC Radio (March 2, 2006)
Online: “Asian collective drums up common bond,” Toronto Star (August 15, 2007) ‘Water warriors’ recruited,” Mississauga.com (March 9, 2010)
Print: “Bonded in Sisterhood, Fearless Together,” Today Daily News (June 24, 2007) “Asian collective drums up common bond,” Toronto Star (August 15, 2007)"