Taiko grabbed Jon Whitsell 20 years ago in the Santa Fe Wild Oats Community Center during a lesson with Blake Himm. A founding member of Smokin’ Bachi Taiko, Jon was Co-Director in Crestone, Colorado of the "Taiko, Awakening the Spirit Conference" with Koji Nakamura, of Ondekoza and Shumei Taiko Ensemble.
His many years in the corporate Audio Visual world, enabled him to combine his passions of tech, event management, and love of taiko to be the Stage Manager at the Matsuri Japanese Cultural Festivals - organized by the Santa Fe JIN (Japanese Intercultural Network.) Some of the Matsuri guests include Tokara, Marco Lienhard, Ringtaro, and Jodaiko.
Jon presently works in alliance with BrandNature LLC doing well for people and the natural world creating video and audio projects with a triple bottom line.
Katherine Kim is a recent transplant to Santa Fe as a retiree and mother of two grown children and two fur babies. She's been involved in the taiko community for nearly 12 years, playing with Odaiko New England in Boston, MA, and traveling both within the US and Japan (including Sado Island and Hachijo Island) for taiko workshops and conferences. Her passions, aside from taiko, are travel and gardening.
Katherine used to work as a teacher and editor, and has lived in the US, Europe and Asia. She's also a biracial Korean adoptee who in 2015 co-founded an NPO which helped Korean adoptees find biological family through the use of DNA. Katherine is in reunion with her Korean mother and travels to Asia as often as she can, for taiko study, and of course for great food!
Emily Walukas is a physics and engineering teacher, aikidoka, amateur tinkerer and aspiring community builder. She began her music endeavors at age 11, playing concert percussion and performing in drumline in high school and college. Her favorite instrument is the marimba and has recently learned to play the cajón and ukulele. Emily is new to the art of taiko but blends a keen wealth of experience in movement, rhythm, and enthusiasm.
Danny is a dance teacher, musician and mother of two grown artistic daughters. She started dancing at age 7. In college at UC Berkeley, she trained with principals from the Martha Graham company. She has taught dance and fitness in California and New Mexico for close to 40 years. She just completed an 18 year run with the National Dance Institute of New Mexico.
In her well-spent youth, she worked as a whitewater river guide while avoiding gainful employment after college, and still spends quality time every summer on the river. Danny feels that music and dance are inextricably entwined, and brings her wide-ranging musical tastes of blues, funk, jazz, Latin, hip-hop, folk, swing, and world music into her dance classes.
She was long-captivated by the combination of rhythm with movement in taiko drumming and finally found a community to study with in Santa Fe. Danny finds the practice of taiko challenging and exhilarating, and a welcome release from stress. She is grateful to be part of Torii Taiko.