About Melody Takata

Artistic Director. Composer. Arranger. Choreographer. Taiko Performer


Photo by Ken Carl

Photo by Ken Carl

Melody Takata is the founder of GenRyu Arts and Festival Director of Japan Week, a summer cultural festival in San Francisco Japantown. She is a multi-faceted artist trained in Japanese Classical Dance, Taiko and Shamisen.  Sensei Takata has been performing for over 20 years in Japan and U.S.A.  Takata grew up in the Japanese American community of Los Angeles with a rich experience in traditional arts. From age 8 she learned odori (Japanese dance) at the Nishi Hongwanji as part of the obon festival ritual (festival honoring ancestors).  At age 10 she began formal study of Nihon Buyo (formal name for Japanese classical dance) at the Fujima School and has performed dance at numerous theater works under Madame Fujima Kansuma until age 20.  From age 13 to 18 she studied shamisen with the Kineya School.  At 15 she began studying and performing with Los Angeles Matsuri and at 20 traveled to Japan to study and later perform as a member of Tokyo’s O Edo Sukeroku Taiko, one of Japan’s most highly renowned taiko ensembles. Ms. Takata completed the ACTA master apprentice program for 2002-2003 on shamisen with Hideko Nakajima Sensei.  Most recently, Ms. Takata has reestablished study with Madame Fujima Kansuma in Los Angeles to strengthen her integrity of Nihon buyo and to ensure a high standard of integration of odori into Gen Taiko’s repertoire. 

Melody also does in-school residencies with Clarendon Elementary School, Gordon J. Lau Elementary, and Chibi Chan at JCYC. If you would like Melody to teach at your school, please contact us.

Career highlights

Professional experience

June ’95 – Present          GENRYU ARTS (aka Gen Taiko)

Sept. ‘96 – July ‘16         YOUNG AUDIENCES

Taiko and Japanese dance performance programs for K-8th grade. Taiko and Japanese folk dance workshops, and residencies for all ages.

Jan ’99 – July ’11            AKATOMBO

Akatombo blends Japanese, and western instruments.  Established to preserve Japanese songs and present them with a fresh approach.  Hideko Nakajima (Shamisen, Vocals).

Feb ’00 – ‘03                  GATHERING OF ANCESTORS

Francis Wong, world-class musician and director.  Performing multi-ethnic instruments Jimmy Biala, John-Carlos Perea, Negmeddin Shaheen, Melody Takata, and others.

June ’78 – Feb. ’87         LOS ANGELES MATSURI TAIKO                      

An ensemble member composing and choregraphing taiko pieces for performances.  Performed nationally such as Atlanta, Georgia “Busch Gardens Asian Heritage Festival”

Awards and Grants

Zellerbach Family Foundation Community Arts Grant
Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) Master Apprentice Program
National Endowment for the Arts Heritage and Preservation Grant
San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity
San Francisco Foundation Grant
Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) Living Cultures Grant in partnership with
the Walter and Elise Hass Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Fund for Folk Culture Grant
Peninsula Community Foundation Grant
James Irvine New Connections Fund
Creative Work Fund
San Francisco Japantown Foundation
California Arts Council Commission

Frequent collaborators

Francis Wong asianimprov.org
Lenora Lee lenoraleedance.com
Tatsu Aoki tatsuaoki.com