Swingposium

Created and produced by San Jose Taiko
Developed and performed with Epic Immersive and Wesley Jazz Ensemble

Japanese Americans have the dubious distinction of being the only U.S. citizen group incarcerated due to wartime hysteria. Sadly, many Americans are unaware of this history. As more internees pass away, it becomes ever more important to preserve their history and share its lessons with younger generations. San Jose Taiko’s highly-acclaimed Swingposium employs the power of performance to teach about Internment and foster dialogue around civil rights, honoring the resilience of those who lived through Internment.

Our current plans are to take Swingposium on the road to Humboldt County, Stockton, Fresno, and Los Angeles. With 5 performances in San Jose, Swingposium has distinguished itself as an excellent work with huge audience appeal - a video excerpt went viral in late 2017, earning more than 3 million views in 10 days and sparking national news coverage - and we are eager to share its impact with more California communities. 

Swingposium combines taiko, jazz, swing dance, and immersive theatre to tell a hidden history of one way Japanese Americans maintained morale in WWII Internment Camps – through swing dances with live big band music. An immersive environment surrounds the audience with the sights and sounds of "camp,” their active participation pulls them deeply into the emotional trajectory of the story: the fear and loss of being sent to an Internment Camp, the struggle to maintain dignity and hope, and the ultimate victory of the human spirit. From past presentations, we find that the immersive experience affects people deeply, inspiring community dialog.

Types of programs:
Outreach: 30 minute performance followed by discussion/Q&A. Intended for High School/College students

A post-performance discussion will be facilitated with the help of activities from the curriculum guide for “What does it mean to be an American?”, developed by the Mineta Legacy Project and SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education). Special thanks to SPICE for allowing us to use this valuable resource to engage youth.

Immersive: 90 minute immersive theater experience (live band, dancers, actors, and of course San Jose Taiko)

Next performances:
January 28 - February 1: Humboldt, CA
- Outreach presentations at Eureka High School and Humboldt State University
- Immersive program at Bayside Community Center

For more information visit the host organization Taiko Swing Humboldt who are doing so much great work to bring this program to their community!

Press:
10/8/19: Eureka lecture looks at Japanese American war-resisters
9/12/19: Taiko Swings Up To Humboldt: A retro tribute to Japanese American Internees
4/11/19: San Jose Taiko receives grant to take their Swingposium on the road
1/26/19: When Taiko meets Big Band and Swing Dancing!

A huge thank you to JA Community Foundation and California State Library Civil Liberties Program and Knight Foundation for their support of this work