Japan’s quirky and innovative performance group SIRO-A spread their magic to The Concourse, Chatswood, in January this year — combining light, technology, and sound to bring their audience an evening of delight and entertainment. This techno group of eleven (six, after having split up to tour simultaneously) has performed all over Asia, America and Europe.

The editors at ECX, of course, did not miss the chance to speak with them about their act and their current world tour.

Combining dynamic choreography with the latest video-mapping technology, SIRO-A brought their visual spectacle to Sydney by projecting a complex series of live-feed clips, animation and laser units onto reflective screens. These thrilling effects were paired with a live soundtrack that was carefully implemented by the DJ and the VJ, both of whom remained at the back of the stage.

From transforming into a rock band with projected electric guitars and drum sets, to characters from various popular films, the group strategically merged their bodies with digital imagery. Even managing to turn into a vintage video game, SIRO-A manifested themselves not only as the performers of their show but also as the canvases, their faces painted white like mimes.

Indeed, the group’s name is derived from shiroi (白い), meaning “white” and “colourless”, while the A represents “anonymous”. Together, it translates to “belonging to no group, impossible to define as anybody”, meaning that they are without genre or category. One can hardly label them as purely dance or comedy, as they manage to sink their teeth into multiple departments, even magic.

Critics have described them as “Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group”, and though SIRO-A is pleased with this comparison, they admit that both groups have their differences. The Blue Man Group, they say, are talented at playing musical instruments whereas they specialise in more physical, high-energy performances.

Featuring seamless choreography where members of the group appear to enlarge in size, or multiply before your very eyes, SIRO-A’s shows have been described as mesmerising and “optical wizardry”. When asked how they would describe their own performances, the group came up with a few words they believed would sum it up: “technology, techno-music, visual illusions, and human power.”

SIRO-A’s tagline includes the phrase techno-circus which, they explain, is the amalgamation of technology and high-energy music. The incorporation of pulsing, bright lights and electric beats within the Australian show allow audiences to experience the performance from various angles, always keeping us on the edge of our seat.

Formed in 2002, the group was first initiated by five friends who met in junior and senior high school. They had a burning curiosity and a talent for seeking out new possibilities, experimenting in drama class with light and projections until one friend had an idea.

Fifteen years later, SIRO-A has eleven members, six of whom were in Australia and the other five in Iran for the 35th Fadjr International Theatre Festival. They have auditioned for Season 10 of America’s Got Talent and were admitted to the semi-finals, and have travelled around the globe to countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, London, Germany, Brazil, and Colombia, amongst others. They have won multiple awards since 2005, including the Edinburgh Festival “Spirit of the Fringe” Award in 2011, and have even participated in TED x Tokyo 2012 “Where Art Meets”.

Influenced by their travels, the group has observed that American and British audiences react more positively to active participation, demanding more contact and humour than audiences in Japan. For their show in Sydney, the group made sure to add more comedy routines, including an impromptu voice sampling segment that directly encouraged audience interaction. Their ability to stay flexible and adapt accordingly has allowed them to perform across the globe, appealing to a range of audiences of all ages.

Talking about their processes, they revealed that each performance takes around two to three months of preparation: from creating graphic image videos to choreographing to the compilation of techno music, the group is constantly looking for new, exciting ways to improve. As of now, the members disclosed that their latest idea is to project a hole onto the floor, encouraging further interactivity with the audience with a – literally – “ground-breaking” idea.

In terms of what they have in store for us in the future, SIRO-A is also busy with grand plans, taking their talents back to Japan for two new shows. One, they told ECX, is a near-futuristic show which incorporates cutting edge technology like 3-D video mappings mixed with techno music and magic. The other performance, called “That’s ZENtertainment!”, blends traditional Japanese culture with acrobatics and dancing.

Saying that they are willing to try America’s Got Talent again, SIRO-A seems confident that they can get further into the rounds than the last time. They also revealed that they are hoping to audition for Australian talent shows and television programs one day, and that they are excited to grow on an international scale.

Journo for ECX Magazine

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