Michelle Fujii creates contemporary work as a 4th generation Japanese-American through the art form of taiko, Japanese drums, and Japanese folk dance placing “traditional” ethnic art within the present – not as a preservation – but as an active force that can continue to inspire and evolve. Her work has been performed and celebrated by taiko groups within Japan and the United States.
Known for her innovative fusion of taiko and Japanese folk dance, she started her taiko training as a performing member of San Jose Taiko. After graduating with a degree in Ethnomusicology at UCLA, Fujii rejoined San Jose Taiko as artistic staff. In 2001 she was awarded the prestigious Bunka-cho fellowship from the Japanese government to study with Japan’s foremost traditional folk dance troupe, Warabiza, where she studied under the tutelage of master dancer/choreographer Shohei Kikuchi. Fujii has played with numerous groups including TAIKOPROJECT, On Ensemble, Shasta Taiko, and was a member of the North American Taiko Conference Advisory Board. She is currently the Artistic Director of Portland Taiko.