Picture a rag-tag group of artists living together in a secluded community, partaking in rigorous physical and mental routines; and dreaming of making it big. If it weren't for volcano Mount Aso looming in the background, youd think it was a Fame sequel. But for members of Japans celebrated percussion troupe TAO, its all part of a three-year journey to the stage.
Taking their name from the Chinese character for road, TAO toured Japan for 11 years before hitting it big at the 2004 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Since then, theyve brought their modern interpretation of taiko drumming (a Japanese tradition of appealing to the gods by channeling strength through hitting the giant drums), along with dancing and playing a variety of other instruments, to more than 15 countries. And, in a performance in which an even bigger daiko drum weighs almost 200 pounds, muscles arent just part of the drill, theyre part of the costume.