Regular visitors to Hyper Japan and the Japan Matsuri will already be familiar with the performances by Japan’s SIRO-A. Formed in Sendai in 2002, SIRO-A have been exporting their particular brand of performance art outside of Japan ever since. They performed to 30,000 people at the Expo 2010 Shanghai China and in 2011 won the prestigious ‘Spirit of the Fringe’ Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Siro-A currently have a residency at London’s Leicester Square Theatre, so J-Pop Go popped along to experience their complete theatre show.

It’s difficult to categorise Siro-A, who combine a variety of elements in their performance from dance, to projection, to music – and also a good side order of humour. What’s clear from their shows however is the painstaking attention to choreography and rhythm. DJ Kentaro Homma provides the Technopop-fuelled beats while the visuals are handled by video artist Daichi Norikane. In combination, the pair provide a suitable background for the rest of the Siro-A team to perform against.

A large part of the show’s content relies on projections and while some is against a stage-spanning background, much of it is precisely aimed at particular spots that require the Siro-A team members to be in position for it to hit the various sizes of props they work with. So for a sequence on a theme of musical instruments, the team hold up their various rectangles and squares as projections of instruments are cast against them, giving the impression that they’re “playing” the instruments.

Other segments are a variation on that theme, such as ‘Box’ which features 3 Siro-A team members coordinating their individual stacks of boxes, deftly switching them around in rhythm to the projections against them. Then there’s the popular ‘Ball’ which sees one Siro-A member silhouetted behind a stark white screen while battling a variety of bouncing balls.
There’s a change of gear for other segments of the show, with nods toward a lot of familiar pop culture icons. Take the reconstruction of a typical level of Mario in which the titular gaming character is transported across the stage via very precise projections. Or the film titles concept in which scenes from popular movies (everything from First Blood to The Exorcist) are recreated with the novelty of objects being constructed from the words that describe them.

A Siro-A show also relies on a healthy dose of audience participation, so a quick photo session before the show arranges volunteers in a variety of poses. Towards the end of the performance, the technical skills of VJ Norikane transform these pictures into a dazzling video collage.

With the team constantly changing or updating routines, you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get with Siro-A. It keeps things fresh and encourages repeat audiences, plus the team are always looking to stretch both their performing abilities as well as their technical skills.

Siro-A’s residency at the Leicester Square Theatre runs until January 2015. If you find yourself in London, we encourage you to check them out first hand.

With thanks to Georgina Hayward at Team International

SIRO-A have regular matinee and evening performances at the Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BX until 11th January 2015

Text by Paul Browne
9th October 2014