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Beyond the Box: Enso Daiko

Learn more about Taiko Arts Midwest's performing ensemble Ensō Daiko, performing May 2 and July 11 at the Theater in the Round Amphitheater on Nicollet Mall as part of Beyond the Box.

If you had to describe your piece in 8 words or less, how would you do so?

A conversation between taiko drums and Asian brush calligraphy




What inspired you to create this performance? What inspires you to perform this piece?

When we changed our name from "Mu Daiko" to "Enso Daiko", we were inspired by several meanings of Enso, such as:

  • circle of togetherness
  • strength, elegance, enlightenment
  • the moment when the mind is free to let the body create
  • the acceptance of imperfection as perfect
  • the void or “mu”

With this in mind, local brush artist Bob Schmidt helped us create our new logo. We thought it would be a great idea for Beyond the Box to combine his visual brush painting with our live taiko performance to see how the energy can relate and inform one another’s work.


How is performing outdoors in this kind of venue different from performing in a theatre space?

The energy of nature and the informal and transitioning audience energy creates a unique environment. As always, we seek to connect to our audience in any environment.  There are more elements of immediacy, interaction, and unpredictability.

About Enso Daiko & Bob Schmitt:

Ensō Daiko offers loud, energetic performances that combine music, dance, culture, and pure athleticism. The group regularly premieres new work adding their unique voice to the expanding canon and innovation of North American taiko. Through performances, studio  classes and school residencies, Ensō Daiko has taught thousands of students of all ages and abilities. Ensō Daiko was founded as Mu Daiko in 1997 by Rick Shiomi. New Artistic Director, Jennifer Weir, renamed it Ensō Daiko in 2017, when TaikoArts Midwest took over the taiko program formerly supported by Theater Mu.

Bob Schmitt, brush painter and teacher, has been using ink and brush in the manner of Asian brush painters for over 50 years. He has trained professionally since 1998 in the study and practice of traditional Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy with Hong Zhang, a Chinese painting master from Shanghai who resides in Minneapolis. He also has studied with Chinese painting masters, Lok Tok and Yitong Lok of Toronto, Canada since 1995. Bob lives and works in his studio/home Laughing Waters Studio, a stone’s throw from Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis.

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