"When I am completely focused on my sound exploration, I lose my self-consciousness and begin to experience the process I call 'becoming the sound.'"
Toshi Makihara's (b. 1960) performance work effortlessly blends percussion with dance-like body movement. Through a rigorous, systematic, and practiced process of experimentation and repetition, Makihara seeks out sounds that he and others have never heard before, experimenting with touch, force, and speed, and always remaining aware of sound's relationship to the body. He uses a variety of percussion instruments, as well as objects found in nature and everyday items, such as metal or machine parts. Makihara first studied percussion in his home country of Japan, learning the importance of breathing and posture. He has also studied Japanese butoh—a performance style that involves playful, grotesque imagery and slow, controlled motion—with dance master Kazuo Ohno and others. After years spent performing with dance and music ensembles, Makihara seeks to collaborate with Philadelphia-area choreographers and to go beyond binaries of movement and sound. "The intention is to transcend the traditional dancer-musician paradigm," he says, "and to realize a truly integral sphere."
Toshi Makihara, solo drum improvisation, January 16, 2013. Video courtesy of the artist.