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March 8, 2017

If there are two things to be taken away from an interview with the Japanese dynamic dance duo Ayabambi and the new Shiseido campaign in which they will be featuring in, is the following; a. they are NOT Voguers, and that strength can be derived from all sorts of catalysts. In conjunction with the imminent launch of Shiseido’s new campaign for it’s Ultimune defense serum, the now wildly renowned dance team of two has spoken to AnOther magazine on the topic of dance, karate, and their eclectic fashion aesthetic that blurs the line between Lolita finery and bare minimalism.

To begin with, they’ve made it a point to establish the one burning topic that most YouTube commenters seem to have posed on a number of videos that featured Ayabambi’s rhythmic, precise and unbelievably synchronous routines: do you Vogue? For the younger end of the generation spectrum, Voguing was an underground dance style that emerged from the gay club scene and ball culture of the mid to late 1980s, set to the backdrop of New York City. The most eminent face to this form of dance that consisted of melding ‘glamour’ poses and effeminate motions was the late Willie Ninja. But of course, most of us know it through the Madonna single that is now immortalized as the definitive showcase of Voguing. Well here’s the news, children: Ayabambi are not Voguers. Aya Sato, one half of the Ayabambi duo, says that “People often say that they can see Vogeuing in the influence of our dance.” And promptly makes it a point to deny this by adding “But I never learned it – I can’t say I am a Voguer, because I am not.” So what do you call her then, if not a Voguer? “Just call me Aya… and Bambi!”

On the subject of their dance inspiration for the new campaign video though, the responses veered far from the talk of Vogue. Drawing heavily from karate, Ayabambi comments that the form of martial arts was “… really serious, strong and poised.” Great care had been taken to show their reverence for it as a honed tradition of practiced self-defense, as they trained under the supervision of black belt karate masters to perfect their movements. “We were terrified that they’d just see two skinny girls dancing, so tried not to use too much of what we learned in the choreography.”, they said. But there’s ample to be had, even with what little they had molded into their dance.

Styled by AnOther Magazine’s fashion editor, Agata Belcen, Ayabambi further explains on the critical role that fashion plays in their dance. Sato explains that “Lines and silhouette are so important to me when choosing what to dance in too. It helps to create that poise. If I don’t have the right silhouette, I am not going to be able to dance in it properly.” All the more reason why the sharp lines and stark colors of their attire often compliment their movements seamlessly in a cohesive performance.

Centered around the premise of the word ‘strength’, the juxtaposition of Ayabambi, Shiseido, and karate, seems to make for a bewildering campaign video that features the continued process of being stronger; whether through defending oneself from physical danger, or the effects of rampant pollution and harsh weather on the skin. This is strength, and Shiseido wants you to know that it can come from a bottle.

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