Taking a break from rehearsal Wednesday on the rooftop at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood, the members of Enra are, from left: Nanako Miura, Tachun (seated), Maki Yokoyama, Nobuyuki Hanabusa, Saya Watatani, Kazunori Ishide (seated) and Yusaku Mochizuki. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Arts & Entertainment

This weekend brings a truly unique brand of stage performance to Hollywood, as Enra, Japan’s performance graphics and dance troupe, will have shows Friday through Sunday at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre.

Taking a break from rehearsal on Wednesday, the group took a moment for a quick chat with The Rafu.

Creative director Nobuyuki Hanabusa explained that the name enra is taken from a shape-shifting yokai – or spirit – from Japanese mythology.

“In our group, we have many kinds of performers, with many different talents,” Hanabusa said. “We do videos, dance, different styles of performing, so we are kind of always changing shape ourselves.”

Enra’s members are skilled in a variety of seemingly disparate arts, including rhythmic gymnastics, Chinese martial arts, ballet and even world-championship juggling.

This weekend will see Enra perform their newest production, “Proxima,” at the Montalban, a precision-choreographed mix of live human performance integrated with complex digital projections.

Human and virtual worlds combine and interact in Enra’s performances.

The on-stage personalities interact with virtual objects and atmospheres, with the virtual art taking on a life of its own. Maki Yokoyama, whose background is in gymnastics, said it took countless hours of rehearsal to get to a point where the group felt comfortable taking the stage.

“We practiced and practiced until we were ready,” she said plainly.

Performer and choreographer Kazunori Ishide said he enjoys the contrast between Japanese audiences and those in the U.S.

“Americans tend to react with a lot of energy, and we can feel that energy,” he explained.

The group joked that one of the challenges has been when to find time for mundane tasks like laundry.

Enra is in the midst of a four-week tour far from home, one that is taking them to New York, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois and, after this weekend’s Hollywood dates, Mexico City.

It will be our first time in Mexico,” said Yusaku Mochizuki, who won the gold medal at last year’s International Jugglers’ Association championships in Canada. “I feel they are a very powerful people, so I hope our performance will rise to the level of their passion and energy.”

“Proxima” will be performed Friday, Oct. 21, and Saturday Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 5 p.m. Tickets: $49. The Montalbán is located at 1615 Vine St. in Hollywood. For tickets, call (323) 461-6999 or visit www.themontalban.com. To learn more about Enra, visit http://enra.jp.

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