Film poster for "Finding Her Beat" with woman playing taiko.
Film poster for "Finding Her Beat" with woman playing taiko.
A master of Japanese drumming and a Korean adoptee from Minnesota boldly convene an all-female troupe to perform Taiko, the Japanese drumming art that has been off-limits to women for centuries


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BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY - Melbourne Documentary Film Festival | JURY PRIZE – Satisfied Eye International Film Festival | BEST DOCUMENTARY & AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY – DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon

Female Solidarity • Women in the Arts • Asian American Identity • Music Performance • LGBTQ Families • Trans-racial Adoption

Date of Completion: 2022 | Run Time: 88 minutes​​ | Language: English & Japanese | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Directors: Dawn Mikkelson & Keri Pickett | Producers: Dawn Mikkelson & Jennifer Weir | Editors: Dawn Mikkelson & Keri Pickett | Director of Photography: Keri Pickett | Field Producers: Shiho Fukada & Caroline Mariko Stucky | Cinematographers: Shiho Fukada & Caroline Mariko Stucky | Principal Participant: Jennifer Weir

A master of Japanese drumming and a Korean adoptee from Minnesota boldly convene an all-female troupe to perform Taiko, the Japanese drumming art that has been off-limits to women for centuries. As the early menace of Covid rumbles in the background, the group faces down hurdles to prepare for a historic performance in snowy St. Paul. Buoyed by dynamic drum performances and do-or-die spirit, FINDING HER BEAT is an energizing and uplifting story of music, cultural expression and sisterhood.

Educational Media Reviews Online | Reviewed by Jodi Hoover, Digital Resources Manager, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD
Highly Recommended
"[D]iscuss issues of gender discrimination as well as feelings of not belonging due to adoption, queerness or racial discrimination."

School Library Journal | Reviewed by Maggie Knapp
"The human connections are as much a part of the film as the energetic and explosive drumming. Those interviewed speak thoughtfully and humbly—yet not without ambition—on the challenges of following a nontraditional path and the value of mutual support and fostering belonging."

Journal of International Women's Studies | Reviewed by Minae Savas
"This documentary celebrates HERbeat’s liberation from such a dichotomy between
masculinity and femininity in the taiko performing arts."

Film Threat | Bobby LePire
10/10 “One of the year’s most engaging and captivating documentaries."

Portland Tribune | Darleen Ortega
"The film [...] will delight and move audiences whether or not they know anything about taiko."

Asian Movie Pulse | Olivia Popp
"[A]n insightful look into an influential art form that also defies a false and frequently misconstrued binary between tradition and modernity."

Los Angeles Blade | Rob Watson
"A story of women rising against a patriarchal backdrop, finding the power of sisterhood, and creating history through the drama of musical expression."

Jennifer Weir is the Executive Director of TaikoArts Midwest, Artistic Director of Enso Daiko, and has been actively performing, creating, producing, and teaching taiko drumming for over 25 years. She is the producer and featured artist of the FINDING HER BEAT documentary film. She also produced and directed the HERbeat concert featured in the film. She is the recipient of past grants from the MN State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, American Composers Forum, and Taiko Community Alliance. She has led leadership workshops for the Shannon Institute with the Wilder Foundation, and has presented at TedxUMN and the BushConnect Conference. She also has extensive background as a theater director and dramaturg, and workshop leader.

Associate Producer & Featured Artist of FINDING HER BEAT


Megan Chao Smith started taiko in Boston, migrating west in search of skills and a Japanese mentality. They studied with Tiffany Tamaribuchi, assisting in hundreds of workshops, performances, and contests around the world. MCS then spent 12 years in Japan, learning dance as well as taiko. They finally gained the skills they sought, living and training as a member and producer with SHIDARA, a professional touring ensemble in the bamboo forests of TOEI-CHO. They were the first foreigner in 800 years to dance in the town's harvest festival.

They currently reside in Minneapolis. As a public health and psychiatric nurse, they are a published writer on topics of health equity and environmental racism. They are guest speaker and teacher at local Nursing Schools on topics of trauma-informed care, and health equity. In addition to performing taiko, they now combine professional nursing experience with traditional artistic practice towards community healing and empowerment, especially for BIPOC, LGBQTIA+, and homeless youth.
Multi-Emmy Award winning director/producer/editor and story consultant. 2010 McKnight Filmmaking Fellow, Dawn Mikkelson’s work has broadcast and screened internationally. Festival screenings include: DOC NYC, Cucalorus, Mill Valley Film Festival, Heartland International Film Festival, Sound Unseen, and Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival. Mikkelson has completed seven award-winning independent feature documentaries, the most recent are MINNESOTA MEAN and FINDING HER BEAT, two follow-documentaries celebrating powerful women.

A former television news reporter at an ABC affiliate, Mikkelson has taught Documentary Film as Adjunct Faculty at Ottawa University in Kansas, as well as at Film North. Most recently she served as Broadcast Content Manager at WDSE|WRPT in Duluth, MN. Over her time at WDSE the station and it’s productions quadrupled their Regional Emmy Award Nominations and received national acclaim by NAJA (Native American Journalist Association).

Based in Lake City, Minnesota, Mikkelson is a proud member of the Film Fatales and the DPA (Documentary Producers Alliance), as Co-Representative of the Midwest Region and Member of the Ethics Committee.

Director, Director of Photography & Editor of FINDING HER BEAT


Keri Pickett is a producer, director and photographer. She is the Co-Director and Directory of Photography for FINDING HER BEAT (88 minutes, 2022), a film following a group of Pan-Asian women finding their power in taiko drumming, which premieres in the fall of 2022. Pickett is the Producer/Director/DP for FIRST DAUGHTER AND THE BLACK SNAKE, (94 minutes, 2017) was selected by the Marfa Film Festival, the Native Women in Film and Red Nation Film Festival, and the Portland Eco Film Festival winning "Best MN Made Documentary Feature" from the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival, a Red Nation Film Festival Courage Award, the Portland EcoFilm Festival Best Feature Film Award and the Frozen River Film Festival Minnesota Documentary Award. It is distributed by Virgil Films & Entertainment. THE FABULOUS ICE AGE, (72 minutes, 2013), a "Netflix Original" distributed in 10 languages for 5 years was her fist film. Pickett also directs short films and music videos including NO MORE PIPELINE BLUES (ON THIS LAND WHERE WE BELONG.) (5 minutes, 2020) Pickett is a member of Film Fatales.
Pickett is an acclaimed photographer and the author of the award winning books LOVE IN THE 90s, (Warner Books, 1995) which won the Best Photo Book award from American Photography and it had a first printing of 150,000 copies and had a Japanese edition. FAERIES (Aperture, 2000) was awarded the Lambda Literary Award, Best Art Book, 2000) and SAVING BODY & SOUL (Shaw Books, 2004).