Interview: Producer akane Makes AGT Finalist, avantgardey Go Viral

I thought, "This might be interesting. Let's try something no one else is doing.”

By: Feb. 16, 2024
Interview: Producer akane Makes AGT Finalist, avantgardey Go Viral
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akane: A choreographer representing Japan, renowned for "Bubbly Dance.” That video, released on YouTube in 2017, has surpassed 100 million views. akane is versatile, contributing to various commercials and video supervisions. Since 2022, she has been active as the producer and choreographer for the globally sensational group, ‘avantgardey.’ She led the group to the finals of the famous American audition show ‘America's Got Talent.’ In January of this year, akane organized avantgardey 1st solo live.

[avantgardey dancing to ‘Idol’ by YOASOBI]

What thoughts did you put into the avantgardey's first solo live performance?

avantgardey is approaching its second anniversary, and initially, we didn't have such significant goals. However, as we continued our activities, we felt through social media that people around the world were enjoying avantgardey's dance. So, with the goal of delivering interesting dance worldwide, we held our first solo live performance. Although avantgardey is not very well known in Japan, the goal for this live performance was to have the Japanese fans join us and enjoy it.

How do you feel after the first day (in Osaka)?

We found several points for improvement. However, it made us realize that we could perform live for a long time like this. Audience reactions during practice are something we never experience, so realizing where people laugh and react was invaluable. More than anything, both the members and I thought, "We want to continue doing this. Live performances are great." I enjoyed the live performance myself, and the audience who attended said, "It was so much fun. I got energy. I want to see it again," so sharing that time with everyone was incredibly fulfilling. For the next Tokyo performance, although the content is the same, we want to further enhance and make it enjoyable for both new and repeat audiences.

[avantgardey performing at ‘America's Got Talent’]

You also participated in ‘America's Got Talent.’ How did your feelings and goals change before and after participating?

Until then, even though we were active in Japan, our goals were somewhat vague, and we were engaging in activities through social media. As we gained attention from people overseas, participating in ‘America's Got Talent’ was a decision made, and we pondered, "How can we create our own performance?" ‘America’s Got Talent’ is a globally beloved show, so the response was tremendous when we actually appeared on it. I was delighted by the direct positive response to our dance style and the unique visual of uniformed bobbed-hair group. Being on that show felt like the world changed in an instant.

[The "Bubbly Dance," choreographed by akane, which has become a social phenomenon.]

You mentioned about uniform and bobbed-hair. Do you have any particular attachment to the hairstyle and costume?

Initially, I thought about how to instantly attract attention and be unforgettable. When I created Bubbly Dance six years ago, we thought it would be interesting to perform in completely different fashions. However, this time, I wondered what would happen if they all wore the same outfit and tried it, and it turned out to be incredibly fun and interesting. I thought, "This style might be interesting. Let's try something no one else is doing.”

[avantgardey showcasing "Kamome ga tonda hi(かもめが翔んだ日)"]

The first piece I created for avantgardey was "Kamome ga tonda hi(かもめが翔んだ日)” by Machiko Watanabe, and by chance, I thought, "That type of uniform would be good." So, I chose costumes with pinafore and bobbed hair. The contrast between black and white stood out a lot, and it turned out, "This costume is interesting!" In the choreography where they flap their wings like seagulls (kamome), the arm movements express the seagulls, and that's where the costume shines. The contrast between the white blouse and the pinafore, along with the bobbed hair, I thought, "This costume really enhances the dance," I have continued to utilize it since then. It wasn't something I had planned too much, but when we tried it, it turned out to be surprisingly interesting and enhanced the dance.

I heard your love for Showa-era (1926 to 1989) Japanese songs. When selecting songs for performances, especially from those songs, what is your deciding factor?

I don't have a clear deciding factor, but when selecting songs for avantgardey, it's not necessarily limited to songs from the '70s and '80s. In the case of choosing songs for avantgardey, I instantly have a sense of "it would be good if those girls danced to this." When I play a song, I imagine how they would move, and if I find it interesting, I decide, "Let's use this!" I love both Showa-era songs and pop music, so I choose by imagining, "Who would express this in an interesting way." Things like "This song might be a bit challenging for avantgardey's uniform" or "On the contrary, this song would fit perfectly" are based on intuition, and I value that intuition.

[avantgardey dancing  "Anata dake mitsumeteru(あなただけ見つめてる)” by Maki Oguro]

Lastly, could you share the future goals of avantgardey and what to look forward to in the nationwide tour in May?

In just about two years of activity, we are constantly challenging ourselves to create more interesting things as avantgardey. I want to create entertaining content for avantgardey not only in live performances but also in videos and various other formats. I hope them to improve both in dance and communication skill, providing enjoyment from both perspectives. Also, the girls in the team are really energetic, and I want them to do things that can cheer everyone up. In the midst of cool and cute dance genres, I've been focusing on creating "interesting dances," so I want to keep creating more interesting dances.

The upcoming tour live will have audiences attending for the first time, and although this time it's only in Osaka and Tokyo, I'm excited to see what kind of audience we'll meet in Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Fukuoka, places we haven't been to before. This first solo live has increased our motivation to "make it even more enjoyable," so we want to enhance and work hard with everyone for the tour.

For those watching from overseas, I'm sure many haven't seen avantgardey or have only seen them in videos, so we would love to perform overseas. avantgardey is ready to rush to any place at any time, so I hope you'll watch our performance live and enjoy it.

Photo Credit :[N/A]