Heart of the Immortal Mountain is an apt description for the Japanese drum and dance troupe Shidara. It also doubled as the program title for their February 24 performance at the Ordway. Pulling from natural surroundings and hoping to bring awareness to their village heritage, harvest rituals, and traditions, Shidara are committed to preserving the ancient dance festivals of their small Japanese community by bringing them on tour for the world to enjoy. This remarkable drum troupe performed for a Minnesota audience on Wednesday, and transported the attendees to a world of magical dragons, rice fields, tonbi birds, and cherry blossoms.
Shidara proves the beat of a drum can convey an orchestra of emotions. The performance was rhythmic and entrancing as the songs seemed to blend together to create an experience rather than just a show. Drums of all shapes and sizes—more than 3,000 pounds in total—filled the stage, some large enough for a person to sit inside. Small bells and woodwinds complemented the natural sound of the drums. This was an art form and a workout; two hours of drumming would wear anyone out, but the performers had smiles on their faces and even came out for an encore. This troupe genuinely enjoyed performing and this enthusiasm inspired the audience to laugh, clap, and even do a little dancing.
There were all ages in the audience that night, and those under 25 may have outnumbered those over, which is rare for theater performances. This is evidence that the Ordway not only puts on great shows, but also taps into entertainment and cultural outreach that inspires youth. Appreciation and involvement in the arts community is an asset to any community, and the Ordway is at the cutting edge of the St. Paul arts scene.