Society Column: Young pros sample sake before TAO


On March 19 “The Scene,” the young professionals group at the Center for the Performing Arts, hosted a culturally themed pre-event party to coincide with the explosive Japanese touring show, TAO: Phoenix Rising. Since TAO tours the United States only once every two years, experiencing the show at the Palladium was a welcome and jaw-dropping experience.

TAO has been seen by more than 5 million people in 17 countries since its inception in 1993.

Prior to taking the stage, TAO performers live at a training base in a national park at Kyushu’s Kuji Plateau in southern Japan. The team of 13 men and 7 women train in the mountains, running 12.5 miles daily, followed by breakfast, then 200 push-ups, 200 sit-ups and 200 squats plus martial arts training. Exercise is followed by 10 hours of drum and choreography practice. This schedule continues for three years or until they are considered ready to go on stage.

The resulting show is an amazing blend of athleticism and musical artistry. At various points in the show, the musicians perform group flips where no one touches the ground. For a few moments, they appear to be flying.

Dominating the stage during the performance are the Taiko drums, each weighing about 900 pounds and 15 feet in diameter.

“You could buy a house for the price of each one,” said Emma Sato, TAO’s international manager.

Kumiko “Kay” Brunson, owner of Pioneer Realty in Carmel, helped organize the cultural aspect of the pre-event party. With stations of ceremonial tea tasting, sake tasting, calligraphy and origami demonstrations, the event reflected the Japanese culture of the TAO performers.

Kazuki Taichi, principal of the Japanese Language School, greeted guests while wearing a traditional happy coat with the words, “Carmel, Ind.” and “Kawachinagano, Osaka” – Carmel’s sister city – printed in Japanese on the lapels.

Ashley Ulbricht, the event chair, was responsible for organizing the pre-event party. Also attending and contributing were John Henne of the Leadership Council and Stephanie Decker and Anne O’Brien, staff liaisons of the Center for the Performing Arts.

For something different and fresh, follow “The Scene” young professionals group at

Tonya Burton is the Current’s social scene columnist. You may contact her at tonya@currentincarmel. com 

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