hypnotic, erotic, robotic: ayabambi are contemporary dancers and a force to be reckoned with

Aya Sato and Bambi are Japanese dancers and lovers fighting against the country's conservative culture.

by Francesca Dunn
03 April 2016, 2:10am

On Wednesday 24th February 2015, Madonna fell backwards off stage at the Brit Awards. The world watched and the world cringed, but none more so than Ayabambi. As instructed by the material girl herself, Japanese dancing duo Aya Sato and Bambi were actually the ones to pull her off stage. Had all gone to plan, they would've snatched away her Armani cape like an impressive tablecloth trick and she'd have marched off across the stage like the queen she is. Unfortunately, she didn't quite untie the bow in time. "I was so scared!" says Aya. "It felt like that moment lasted for hours." Luckily, both parties are now very much over the situation and AyaBambi are still dancing with Madge, as well as touring with a whole host of 'big in Japan' artists, working with Sia's choreographer Ryan Heffington and appearing in campaigns for the likes of Chalayan and Alexander Wang, who "loved our dance videos and asked to work with us." 

Hailing form Yokohama, Aya and Bambi (or Akkun and Mammi-chan, as they call each other) met at a dance audition and though having only teamed up professionally two years ago, they've been madly in love for the past three. Both began dancing as young girls and have taken inspiration from a whole host of styles resulting in a movement so powerful and impossibly in-sync that we can't help but liken it to that of two androids vogueing. Frequently described as otherworldly, they love such comparisons and also find their moves "mannequin-like and sexy". Hand choreography is a big part of their repertoire; with jolty, face-framing actions highlighting their sharp haircuts, piercings and never-not all black everything uniform. They stand tall and proud, like dark, all-powerful mystical beings and yet they're simultaneously very, very kawaii. "I just love to be with my teddy bear at every moment. His name is Meringue," smiles Bambi, whose Instagram is peppered with guest appearances from her fluffy friend. 

Aya and Bambi are engaged, something which up until just a few months ago, could never have resulted in marriage in their home country. But as of November 2015, in just two districts of Tokyo - Shibuya and Setagaya - same-sex marriage has been recognised and made legal. "Japan is supposed to be an advanced country," Aya tells us, "but it is still conservative in many ways due to tradition. Things like this change very slowly in Japan." And while they obviously welcome the news, their attitudes are so relaxed, so assured, that they admit it changes nothing for them. "I am what I am, and so is she," she affirms. Looking forward, they hope to start planning their wedding and continuing work on projects that span both the fashion and dance worlds, as well as moving into film. "Tim Burton is our favourite filmmaker so if the chance is there, working with him would be the dream!"


Text Francesca Dunn
Photography Piczo

contemporary dance