4×4 starts on a bare and darkened stage; no backdrop, green Exit lights visible upstage left and right. Then a slow suffusion of light reveals eight performers silhouetted against an illuminated triangle that seems filled with clouds of billowing smoke. One by one the jugglers begin to throw and catch. A dancer matches the rhythmic rise and fall of the balls with pulsing ports de bras as she circles her arms up above her head and round, rhythmically slapping her thigh each time her hand passes her leg.

This was an evening of novelty and surprises. The balls, clubs and rings thrown through the air brought an extra visual dimension to the stage, arching overhead to give an impression of architectural structures in space, or weaving in among and around the performers. The choreography was ingenious and witty: relevés and bourrées on pointe (for the two women dancers), petit allegro with small beaten jumps and perfectly centred pirouettes mathematically placed in geometric floor patterns that made the most of a small space. Unusually, we heard the dancers speak (and they were actually audible), and spoken word formed part of the audial effect, alongside Nimrod Borenstein’s original score.

Sometimes the trajectories of the objects thrown played tricks on the eye so that a dancer surrounded by juggling balls seemed held in a dynamic moving cage, or the object itself might become a prop (a ring representing a halo or a wing). At times there was a clear focal point, at others, the action was diffuse so that the eye could only absorb part of the scene.

There was no hard and fast divide between the dancers and the jugglers; they all moved with elegance and grace and they all handled the equipment. More beautiful than a traditional circus show, more communicative than rhythmic gymnastics, this was an interesting new way of working with dance. There was a mesmerising quality to the movement of all the performers as they responded to the inexorable pull of gravity on thrown objects. For every encounter, timing had to be perfect, positions impeccably placed, and the result was curiously restful on the eye. I could have watched with fascination and satisfaction for hours. The show concluded as sixty balls lay on the floor in twenty colour-coded lines of three. One of the cast spoke with gentle humour, offering several possible endings before he settled on the simplest one of all, the one before our eyes: a juggler on the stage with an arrangement of balls.

Sadly, there was no programme and no cast list, so although I know from the Web that the show was directed by Sean Gandini, choreographed by Ludovic Ondiviela and lit by Guy Hoare, the other artists must remain unnamed for the moment.

Maggie Watson

2 September 2015

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