Melody Takata

Melody Takata grew up in the Japanese American (JA) community of Los Angeles with a rich experience in traditional arts. From age 8 she learned odori (Japanese dance) as part of the obon festival ritual (festival honoring ancestors). At age 12 she began formal study of Nihon Buyo (Japanese classical dance) at the Fujima School under NEA Heritage Fellow Madame Fujima Kansuma until age 20. From age 13 to 18 she studied shamisen (Japanese lute) with the Kineya School. At 15 she began studying and performing with Los Angeles Matsuri taiko and at 20 traveled to Japan to study and later perform as a member of Tokyo’s O Edo Sukeroku Taiko, one of Japan’s most highly renowned taiko ensembles. In 1995 Melody founded Gen Taiko and in 2009 incorporated under the name Genryu Arts in San Francisco Japantown. Gen Taiko is an ensemble and school which trains hundreds of youth each year in taiko and dance as a vehicle for community building. She has gained major recognition for her groundbreaking collaborations with composer Tatsu Aoki in Chicago, Francis Wong in San Francisco, and with Japanese traditional master artists Fujima Kansuma, Hideko Nakajima, and Chizuru Kineya. Over the past decade she has received commissions from the NEA (2005, 2006), Creative Work Fund (2007), San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commissions (2007, 2009), James Irvine Foundation (2007), Alliance for California Traditional Arts (2006).