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RAW Taiko Drummers to Perform at Swarthmore

Three taiko drummers with back to camera

Photo by Ima Jing

The Swarthmore College Department of Music and Dance, William J. Cooper Foundation, Engaged Humanities Studio, Sager Fund, Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program, and Tri-College Asian American Studies Program will present the Raging Asian Womxn (RAW) Taiko Drummers on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023 at 7 p.m. in the Pearson-Hall Theatre in the Lang Performing Arts Center.

RAW is a Toronto-based performing arts ensemble made up of East and Southeast Asian womxn. Formed in 1998, it carries on the diasporic taiko tradition that grew out of Asian American and Asian Canadian mobilization in the ‘60s and ‘70s. One of the few all-Asian, all-womxn taiko drumming groups in the world, RAW exists as a critical response and challenge to both systemic and internalized oppressions.

The name reflects a commitment to including and uplifting the experiences, perspectives, voices, anger, and knowledge of trans and cis women, nonbinary and gender-variant people, both within RAW and in communities RAW loves. RAW plays large taiko drums as creative resistance for social change, carving space for self-expression, education, and community building.

RAW's performance, Undaunted: Into the Open, is a blend of both new originals and beloved taiko songs played on booming drums: story vignettes on resistance, resilience, and what lives on through collective struggle.

“I’ve admired the work of RAW ever since I first learned of this powerful ensemble,” says Associate Professor and Chair of Music Lei X. Ouyang. “The group is deeply connected and committed to Asian, Asian American, and Asian Canadian mobilizations. They are also committed to feminist and queer communities in their work as performers, artists, and educators.”

“I’m also thrilled to be able to bring RAW to campus to perform and engage with our students through performance and discussion,” Ouyang adds. “In the course ‘Taiko & Asian American Experiences,’ we combine both academic and performance study of taiko drumming to understand the history, significance, and potential of playing taiko as Asian Americans.”

“I’m excited to see RAW in concert — not only because the group is celebrating its 25th anniversary, but because artistic director, Young Park, whose extensive experience includes contemporary dance and contact improvisation, focuses on taiko’s vast choreographic potential,” says Professor of Dance Joseph Small.

The event is free and open to the public. Please visit the Department of Music and Dance’s concerts and events page for more information.

In addition to the Feb. 17 performance, the ensemble will work with Swarthmore students in the “Taiko & Asian American Experiences” course and conduct a workshop entitled “Drumming Up Rage.” For more information about these events, please contact Professor Ouyang at

Swarthmore College encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Susan Smythe, ADA Program Manager, at 610-690-2063 in advance of your participation or visit.

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