Kristofer Bergstrom is a percussionist, composer, and choreographer, known for pushing the boundaries of Japanese drums and for his groundbreaking choreography for slant-style taiko. After three and a half years studying traditional Japanese music and dance in Japan, Bergstrom was a founding member of On Ensemble, formed Los Angeles Taiko Institute alongside Yuta Kato, was Artist in Residence of the City of Los Angeles in 2018, Asano Taiko US in 2019, and Grand Vision Foundation in 2020. Performing under the moniker, Arugakki, he and dancer Minh Nguyen released Harbor in early 2021 and are now focused on composition, research, and practice.
My aunt has recently died and I'm sitting in her dining room, surrounded by half-packed things. I can't sleep, and I'm feeling introspective. Do I care about my taiko legacy?
Minh and I are using 2023 and 2024 to prepare a new set of music for tour. 2023 is all about practice, and we're treating it like we're in school, with a set schedule and specific topics of study. "Arugakki U", we call it. We have four, one-hour classes Monday through Thursday -- currently Taiko-Specific Technique, Small-Drum Technique, Groove and Feel, and Movement and Choreography -- along with optional extra classes of our choosing. I compose in the evenings and on weekends. In 2024, we'll focus on the repertoire and preparing for tour.
It's pure joy. We're pushing ourselves, and still we have time for making food, tidying, and having sex. It's the art-centered life I've dreamed of, and the everyday outshines the end-goal.
I feel increasing pressure to work quickly. The pandemic cut short a North American tour and cancelled all my teaching, and I went from balancing my energy between multiple responsibilities to a profoundly simple lifestyle of practice and composition. I assume I will return to teaching at some point, and I hope to perform regularly again, but at the moment it feels like I need to keep my head down and study, play, and explore. -- Kris
Promo photos (click image for high-resolution version)