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Gandini Juggling: 4X4 Ephemeral Architectures

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As the eight performers weave intricate physical patterns via their respective skills, it is hard to tell where juggling ends and dancing begins.

The four dancers two men, two woman perform in and around the four jugglers ditto, ducking and weaving as balls, clubs and rings fly around them. As they form groups, meshing like cogs in a living machine, before splitting apart like atoms, they accompany their activity with mantras, questions, squeaks and huffs or just plain nonsense.

Backed by a string quintet, whose minimalist sound curls through the leaping bodies and flying balls, they evolve into a hybrid organism through a cross-infection of talents – the jugglers dance and the dancers juggle. There is a pleasing symmetry throughout.

The piece is clearly intended to challenge our perceptions of the art forms on display. The vocalised text is deliberately naive, almost childlike in its provocation – “You want story? How much story do you want?” – and is often reduced to counting and colour-coding the balls. As the lighting changes and the floor resembles a chessboard, it becomes increasingly clear that the complex and beautiful rhythms and configurations set up by the flying balls and dancers’ semaphoring limbs are being decoded like an Enigma machine. Leavened with a streak of mischief, in which each group takes turns to dominate the other, this is a clever, cool and wondrous show that gives delight and hurts not.

Verdict: Four jugglers and four dancers move from collision to collusion in a show of mathematical fluidity

Neil Norman

  • Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House, London
  • January 13-15
  • Director: Sean Gandini
  • Choreographer: Ludovic Ondiviela
  • Design: Nimrod Borenstein music
  • Cast: Kim Huynh, Sakari Mannisto, Owen Reynolds, Kati Yla-Hokkala Jugglers, Joe Bishop, Erin O’Toole, Kate Byrne, Kieran Stoneley dancers, Charlotte Maclet, Gaelle-Anne Michel, Elitsa Bogdanova, Arthur Boutillier, Siret Lust musicians
  • Producers: Gandini Juggling, National Centre for Circus Arts, Lighthouse, Poole and La Breche, Pole National des Arts du Cirque de Basse Normandie, Cherbourg-Octeville
  • Running time: 1hr 5mins

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The Stage
The Stage is a British weekly newspaper and website covering the entertainment industry, and particularly theatre. It was founded in 1880. It contains news, reviews, opinion, features, and recruitment advertising.