FINDING HER BEAT: A Documentary – A Review by Jenn Rohm
Taiko is a broad range of percussion instruments. In Japanese it refers to any kind of drum, outside of Japan, it specifically refers to various Japanese drums called wadaiko and an ensemble using these drums. Post World War II this art performance by men began to be noticed and grow in popularity. This was not traditionally a “go to the theater” performance. It was found at shrines, religious rituals, or other local festivals.
Finding Her Beat is the documentary following long-time friends bringing together women who have broken through this male-dominated art form. Jennifer Weir is the director of TaikoArts Midwest, out to Dawn Mikkelson and Keri Pickett as an opportunity to film the performance planned for Feb 2020 in St. Paul, MN. What Mikkelson and Pickett have directed is more than just a recording of that show.
Jennifer Weir and wife Megan Chao-Smith along with Tiffany Tamaribuchi are finally ready to live their dream of an all-female Taiko show. Tiffany is a touring performer, and her schedule took her overseas where she met with Asian performers to confirm their agreement to come to the United States for this performance. Mixed with interviews of the artists telling their stories of challenges entering Taiko troupes, everyone coming together in Minnesota, planning out the show, and how to make things work with the space of the stage the audience gets to be a part of the dream becoming reality. With the addition of winter weather, flu season, and the COVID-19 epidemic turning into a pandemic, fluidity becomes necessary to pull it all together.
The focus is on the art form and breaking down gender-based barriers. Seeing the women come together to celebrate each other, fan over a favorite performer, and even a bit of competition to be the best where shown. Weir is a level-headed leader always ready with a smile even when ill herself. I enjoyed the bits of insight into what takes place in pulling off a stage performance.
The inclusion of moments of the home life of Weir, Chao-Smith, and their daughter shows the strength of their family and the support they give each other. Both work hard in their day-to-day life and have found balance with their passion to perform Taiko. It is possible to make dreams come true; it will take hard work and perseverance. The smiles throughout the process show it is all worth it.
Director: Dawn Mikkelson, Keri Pickett
Cast: Kaoly Asano, Megan Chao-Smith, Jennifer Weir, Chieko Kojima, Tiffany Tamaribuchi
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Selig Rating: 3.5 stars
Runtime: 1h 29m
Release Date: October 9, 2022
Movie Site: Finding Her Beat website
Trailer: Finding Her Beat trailer
The Selig Rating Scale:
5 Stars – Excellent movie/show, well worth the time and price.
4 Stars – Good movie/show
3 Stars – OK movie/show
2 Stars – Well there was nothing else . . .
1 Star – Total waste of time.