By Bob Hicks
That’s WHOOP, all upper-case. Small word, big noise.
Last time we wrote about Ten Tiny Taiko Dances it was first-gathering time, when everyone involved was meeting and hatching ideas. It was sort of like the first real date after the speed-dating hookup: everyone was pumped about the possibilities, but also just a little nervous and not sure what to do next.
Time flies. Today, as Mr. Scatter basks temporarily in a sunny little subtropical village dotted with palm trees (locals call it “San Francisco”), he realizes that suddenly this audacious collaboration of Mike Barber‘s Ten Tiny Dances and Portland Taiko‘s big bad sonic boom of drumming is almost upon us: Performances are at 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Winningstad Theatre.
Who’d’a thunk Barber’s devilish little squeeze of a dance format (Ten Tiny Dances is performed on a 4-by-4-foot platform) would go out on a date with the extroverted Japanese American drumming of Portland Taiko? Christine Calfas, for one.
To see how this oddball matchup was shaking down, last Sunday afternoon Mr. Scatter putt-putted over to Calfas’s attic Studio 297.
We scrambled upstairs with crushed-mint iced tea and a highly attentive gray cat named Govinda, then sat by a low platform with a laptop computer on it and a drum set — it belongs to Joe Trump, Calfas’s musical collaborator on her tiny dance, WHOOP — in the background.
Against the wall, neatly arranged on a futon on the studio floor, an array of black-handled knives glinted softly in the light.
“I’ve been working with blades as images for a while,” Calfas explained, including a piece for last summer’s Richard Foreman Festival. WHOOP, she added casually, will include 88 knives (is it coincidence that this is also the number of keys on a piano?) “plus nine more knives, plus two circular saws.”