Sean Gandini’s fascination with classical ballet has led to this collaboration with ex-Royal Ballet dancer and budding choreographer Ludovic Ondiviela, first performed in January as part of the London International Mime Festival.
Juggling and ballet may not seem obvious bedfellows, and yet, as the four jugglers (including Gandini himself for this tour) and four dancers negotiate the stage together, alternately collaborating and creating complications for each other, a sense of symmetry emerges – both, after all, need dedication, precision, and complete trust.
This is reinforced by the gently persuasive theme that overarches the series of set pieces in 4×4 – that there is a system or code underpinning life, “a set of instructions for the ritual” that with perseverance we can all master. And so as the increasingly complicated patterns emerge on stage – as dancers pirouette and leap through intricate grids of flying clubs, rings or balls, and jugglers support dancers on their backs, or through arabesques, while continuing their throwing routines – a sense of cool delight at the logic of it all becomes evident, culminating in a supremely elegant display of rendering order from a chaos of juggling balls.
Nimrod Borenstein’s composition Suspended opus 69 is a sporadic accompaniment, while the performers themselves provide a constant soundtrack of multi-lingual words and phrases and variety of sounds, whether counting out their movements as though in a dance rehearsal, chanting the colours of their juggling balls, making howler monkey noises, or philosophically posing questions. It’s here that the low-key humour and playfulness of the piece peeks through. If 4×4 asks big questions about the meaning of life, it does so with a knowing wink, and an acknowledgement that in fact there can be as much beauty in a dropped juggling ball as in a perfectly executed fouette.