Rapaciously collaborative juggling cell. Around since the days of Ra Ra Zoo, the Gandinis have found success by balancing corporate work, light outdoor entertainment, and – increasingly now – longer, more ambitious pieces. They're juggling nerds, and you feel that the work closest to their hearts is the work that reflects this most strongly: pieces about patterns, mathematics, juggling itself. In the UK, there's no other company like them; they're one of the best. In recent years a particular highlight has been their residencies at the National Theatre for Watch This Space: inviting jugglers from around the world to collaborate on pieces that push at the boundaries of what an outdoor audience – what we think an outdoor audience – will accept.
"Plan B was the second piece, conceived by Aurélien but directed by Phil Soltanoff, a very uncompromising artist who Aurélien seems to find a big spark with. Yes, it's a slightly different aesthetic from some of his other works, but I think that Aurélien has progressed with every show he's done. It's gotten more complex. It's got more layers to it now. I think Plan B was an amazing step forward: who knows how people will see it now, but 10 years ago people who saw it were very deeply impressed."
Mime Festival directors Joseph Seelig and Helen Lannaghan talk about the six circus shows (and one not-dance show) from January's programme.
'I think the show started off quite innocent, and that, even though it had dark undertones from the beginning, it got progressively darker and darker. I'd been sending them these e-mails about Clockwork Orange, and we'd had this discussion of whether it should be the boys spraying Doreen with paint. I liked the idea that I could put them in white boilersuits and it would be quite violent, but it wound up being the two girls that did the scene and it ended up, in a way, being quite beautiful as she got absolutely drenched in this black paint.'
Gemma Banks on her work designing the costumes for Gandini Juggling's Blotched.
The company, eleven of them this time, thread through the crowd. Sean Gandini comes close and rustles past looking like a piñata, his voluminous, papery coat and trousers layered pink, purple, yellow and orange, with a turquoise band settled at the waist as the cummerbund of this evening's attire.
Sideshow spins the summer circus festivals in an editorial centrifuge to separate out the circus, with Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Watch This Space, Hat Fair, Zircus Plus, Bristol Harbour Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and more under scrutiny.
At the start of Motet there are juggling balls of all sizes and colours lying on the stage, and it's very dark. Sakari Männistö, wearing voluminous, brocaded trousers, treads daintily among them, moving from one edge to another, staring out and not in, waiting for something perhaps.
'I think the Pina Bausch thing ended up being stronger than we imagined—in my mind it was lightly inspired by Pina Bausch and it came out strong. I'd say it's only recently that her influence has come in. I'd say that maybe our early work was closer to our other hero, Merce Cunningham. Maybe NightClubs was a little bit more related to Merce's work and mathematics and complex space and all of that, and certainly all our early work was working with complex spatial arrangements. With Pina actually it's terrifying when you see her work because you just realise how much everyone's got out of it. Kontakthof and Café Müller are extraordinary and beautiful works. They hover at the back of your brain those pieces...'
Sideshow talks to Sean Gandini about Smashed!, the commission piece from Gandini Juggling's 2010 Watch This Space residency, and a work of beautiful destruction and perversity.
Now in his sixth year programming the National Theatre's three-month, outdoor mega-festival Watch This Space, Angus MacKechnie talks to Sideshow about the WTS residencies, stretching the budget, and pulling in the Alan Bennett audience
Fuse Medway, City of London, Glastonbury, Watch This Space, Greenwich + Docklands, Surge, Theatre Meadows, Stockton International Riverside, Edinburgh Fringe, The Big Splash...
Sideshow boils and reduces the summer festival programmes into one combined guide.
Held in the Astroturf square outside the National Theatre where it was almost magically cursed by bad weather, I’m not sure how much of Watch This Space’s third week was either cancelled or abbreviated—but the days I was there the Gandinis (jugglers in residence) seemed like the perfect company to take the problems in their stride.