Edward Nance lets out a yell as he brings a thick, wooden drumstick crashing down against the taut surface of the massive drum in front of him. A rolling rumble resonates in the ribcages of audience members as the thunderous rhythm builds.
Nance, a 20-year veteran of the iconic Japanese taiko drum, is no stranger to the excitement and thrill of performing on the Colorado Dragon Boat Festival Main Stage. A member of Denver Taiko, Nance has been performing at the festival since he was 17 years old.
“Right before I play it is nothing but butterflies.,” Nance said. “You would think after doing it so long I would not get this feeling but, it is still there.”
Coming from a mixed-racial background, Nance, who is part Japanese and part African-American and Caucasian, understands the importance of being part of one of Colorado Dragon Boat Festival’s perennial powerhouse performances.
“The Dragon Boat Festival has been around for so long and I feel it is important for residents of Colorado to know the beauty of all of the different Asian cultures represented in this beautiful State,” Nance said.
“To me the Dragon Boat means so much,” he added. “Without it, summer just would not feel the same. It would be a crime if Coloradans were not able to experience such amazing exposure to Asia.”
Taiko drums were originally used by Japanese samurai to intimidate their enemies and coordinate battle movements, as well as in religious exercises and to dispel evil spirits. Modern group-based performance taiko dates back to the 1950s.
Denver Taiko, a non-profit ensemble founded in 1976, is one of the country’s oldest taiko groups and has performed at the Dragon Boat Festival since its inception in 2001. Nance has participated in all except three of their performances at Sloan’s Lake.
“Denver Taiko always has a great crowd and I am proud to be at least a small part of an amazing summer festival,” Nance said. “Just looking out there and seeing the excitement and anticipation in each face is a rush I cannot describe."