Along with the APA Alumni spotlights, an exciting new blog series will feature the representatives from our member organizations! First up, we have Shuwen Zhang, representing Kazan Taiko.
How did you get involved in Kazan Taiko?
I grew up living in Japan, so I grew up watching Taiko performances at festivals. I thought it was really neat, and always wanted to try. I played played piano before, like a typical asian kid, but Taiko is so different. Taiko gives me a chance to take out my stress on the drums, and the people are really nice.
Could you describe your position?
I’m the executive director, but we also have artistic director, so i’m in charge of logistic planning and I help out at practices and my artistic director takes care of the artistic vision. We have practices Monday and Wednesday at night behind VKC.
Did you have any other roles before?
Sophomore year I was the Practice Leader, so I helped the artistic director train the newbies, and last year I was executive director too.
How is your E-board structured?
We have 9 people on E-Board – there’s Executive Director, two Finance Chairs, and under Artistic Committee theres the Artistic Director and two Practice Leaders. Then we have a Media Committee, with a Media Director, Digital Chair and then External Relations. And shes the one that comes to APASA meetings!
Would you say you stuck it through Kazan Taiko for the family and cultural aspect or for the performances?
I would say both, I really like the performance, I did a lot of other groups too like Dance Off and then i dabbled in a bunch of different clubs… I guess the cultural aspect was a big part of it even though i’m not Japanese, it connected me to the Japanese side of my culture. And definitely the family members, I got to know a lot of them really well. I live in the taiko house, there’s 11 of us and we haven’t gotten sick of each other yet, so that’s good!
What’s you favorite event for Taiko?
Spring concert is our biggest event where we showcase our performances. And the hell weeks leading up to that are tough but I really like it cuz thats when we really get to know each other and get to clean up everything, so I guess thats my favorite part… and just going out to eat. we go to ktown a lot since it’s so close.
If you could have any kind of talent, what would it be?
I guess I would want to be able to speak publicly. I’ve gotten a little better hopefully but even as executive director, I just ask other people to help do it for me, so I guess drumming gives me the voice i can’t literally have.
What were the festivals like that you went to before?
There are festivals, even here in socal that you can see at obon festivals. In Japan it’s more one person drumming and people dancing around, but in America its more group drumming, so it’s changed since coming to america. It’s pretty physical – it’s pretty masculine, so i like that girls can play it too. In japan, the oldest groups didn’t let females play, but it’s been changing and here definitely in america all people can play.
What is one thing you want to do before you graduate/any bucket list items?
I need to ride traveller. And mostly travel, I want to live in a trailer car and just drive around. i really wanna go to south america… I wanna hitch hike across south america!
Is there anything more you’d want to see from APASA this year?
This year we want to work more with other groups too – just joint events, collaborations and I really appreciated the community banquet at the beginning of the year, and I’d want more events like that to get to know more other APASA groups and E-board members.
Is there anything else you’d want to tell us?
Most collegiate taiko groups have an audition process, but i think what makes us special is that we don’t have any audition processes, and we accept everyone. At the beginning of the year, we have our open practice for people to see if they like it . But we want to keep it open to everyone so anyone who’s interested can really have access and learn. Because we’re open to everyone, sometimes maybe our performance level itself isn’t as high as other groups, but we really value the family spirit that comes with it, the fact that it is open to everyone so I think that’s a core part of our vision and values and we want to keep it that way…and this year we got 17 new members which is a pretty big group!
Check out Kazan Taiko on Facebook to stay updated on Kazan Taiko going-ons, and come out to their Spring Concert on April 12 this year!