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Interview with juggler Sean Gandini

22 April 2014 | Charlie Kenber

“We had a broken nose and lets just say that some other balls were bounced!”

We chatted to Sean Gandini about Smashed, the latest show from his company on at the Udderbelly Festival…

London Calling: How would you describe the show?

Sean Gandini: The show is a spectacular hour of apple and crockery juggling, with jealousy, comedy and smashing thrown in, originally conceived as a tribute to the late great Pina Bausch.

LC: Who do you think the show particularly appeals to?

SG: From our experience, the show has a layered appeal that spreads over many age groups and cultures. Everyone from 8 year old wannabe rascals to seasoned intellectuals seem to enjoy and be able to get caught up in the magic of Smashed.

LC: The show is inspired by Pina Bausch – how does this feed into it more specifically?

SG: We deliberately tried to deal with themes which we felt were Bauschian; relationships between men and women, power play, loneliness to name a few. There is also a choreographic feel through which we tried to quote Pina Bausch. Of course juggling does change things and definitely adds another element...

LC: How many apples do you get through! Do you get your five-a-day during the show?

SG: A lot! We get through between 80 and 100 apples per show, an extraordinarily large amount. More than enough for each of our five-a-day!

LC: You’ve performed all over the place – how does the London audience compare?

SG: We love the London audience! They are joyous and cynical in equal measures. London is also our home, so we are happy to do such a long run and enable our home audience to get really involved with Gandini Juggling and Smashed in particular.

LC: How did you get into juggling?

SG: I stumbled into it. I was obsessed with magic as a child growing up in Havana and most magicians can juggle to some extent. In my teens I got completely enthralled with all aspects of juggling. Ultimately it kept me off the streets and busy doing something that I came to love.

LC: What’s the worst juggling-based accident you’ve ever had?

SG: We used to have a juggling cube. It was a bulletproof glass box where one bounces balls. We had a broken nose and lets just say that some other balls were bounced! You can check us out at work in the cube back in 2000 in this video.

LC: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever juggled? Anything live?

SG: A few years ago I juggled two eggs and an adorable pygmy pig at the same time. Don't worry the pig was not harmed, there is a juggling pattern called the Baby Juggle where the live animal/baby does't actually get thrown at all! It is more of an illusion.

LC: How long does it take to train as a juggler, and how much do you need to practice?

SG: I think the commonly said 10 years training and 10,000 hours of practice is probably quite accurate. We do between 2 and 5 hours each day to ensure we are always at the top of our game and constantly improving our skills.

LC: Finally, why should people come and see the show?

SG: Because it is unlike anything else you will ever see. As well as addressing some bigger themes, it is funny, sexy and clever. But I am in it so I suppose I might be a little biased! Come down to the Udderbelly from 22nd April - 18th May and decide for yourself!

Smashed is on at the Udderbelly until 18th May. Tickets from £12.50, available here.

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