Gandini Juggling is an established company that’s made its name experimenting and fussing together circus and dance narratives. This time round Sean Gandini and dancer Seeta Patel experiment with bharatanatyam dance, juggling and percussion.
‘Sigma’ is the letter S in the Greek alphabet: in the upper case, meaning to sum up and, in the lower case, expressing variations in value of a set of data. The performance is divided into twelve parts, which showcase how these two so distinct artistic vocabularies can be interlaced or juxtaposed, a Venn diagram if you will of two art forms distinct both in their culture and history as well as in their techniques. Four performers – two dancers Seeta Patel and Indu Panday, and two jugglers Kati Ylä-Hokkala and Kim Huynh – two dancing mirrors and a few colourful juggling balls is all it takes.
The performers enter with their heads and faces completely covered, stand before us and declare with conviction, sass and humour what the show should include. The ritual is repeated in the end with should-have-beens this time; a circle of artistic aspiration and stocktaking.
The four performers create for us Rorschach test images, time-lapses of blossoming flowers and intricate shadow plays. They combine the stylised and theatrical Bharatanatyam poses and moves with the parabolic and fluid trajectories of juggling; they playfully compete; the silent and dark Lilian Baylis Studio is filled sometimes with forceful Bharatanatyam footwork and sometimes with the colourful juggling balls bouncing off crates. The jugglers setting the pace for the dancers and vice versa. Between some sets the performers break the fourth wall and introduce themselves, where and when they were born; when and where their parents were, with a variety of places and cultures making up their identities. They subvert our subconscious preconceptions from their appearance and emphasise once again the transcending and intermingling character of the performance.
‘Sigma’ was born out of a…coffee date – as Sean Gandini put it in the Q&A – between bharatanatyam and juggling, it is still a young piece, still developing so any qualms about some of the conceptual aspects and devices used can take second place. It is equally a skilfully playful and an absorbing piece, successfully transcending cultural identities if not completely successfully mixing them.