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The Juggling Man - Sean Gandini

25 July 2012 | Anita Mistry

The Gandini's are taking the Watch This Space Festival by storm this week at the National Theatre. London Calling's Anita Mistry caught up with Sean Gandini, juggling man extraordinaire...

London Calling: Tell us a bit about the performance you have created for the National Theatre’s Watch This Space Festival.

Sean Gandini: The piece is a tribute to Merce Cunningham who was a big influence on our early work. It is the largest amount of jugglers we have assembled, 20 jugglers, for the 20 years the company has been around. It also features 120 electronic balls and clubs...


LC: Sounds intriguing! How many years have you been involved with the National Theatre?

SG: This will the 4th year we have a week residency at the national. In those 4 years the company has grown a lot with Smashed which was commissioned by Watch This Space Festival having become an international success.

We will in fact perform the 100th Smashed on Sunday the 29th and it should be quite a special show!


LC: When did you realise juggling was your vocation?

SG: As a child I used to do magic but was always fascinated by the circus. In Havana we used get visits by the Moscow State Circus which I used to love!


LC: What was it like growing up in Havana, Cuba? Why did you come to the UK?


I had a nomadic childhood and Havana was a highlight. Havana in the 70s was a vibrant place and my parents house was a hub of activity, political discussions, parties, concerts... I came to London at 20 to become a magician or a painter but somewhere along the line got obsessed with juggling!


LC: You have performed all over the UK, (not to mention the world). Where has been the most exciting place to perform for you?

SG: I think it would be hard to pinpoint just one place. I love performing and consider myself very lucky to be able to do this for a living!

A couple of resent highlights were the museum of Modern Art in St Etienne in a big beautiful white room and a bus stop in Northern France where our backdrop was a line of sitting pensioners who sit there every day, and so refused to move for the festival. I don't think they liked the show.

Sometimes one gets a bigger sense of achievement performing in a school than in front royalty or the like...



LC: I’m intrigued by your fascination of mathematics and its relationship with magic and juggling. Can you tell us more about that?

SG: The connection with mathematics is partly related to the fact that juggling patterns are essentially mathematically definable structures. This means that thanks to work done in the eighties we have a great notation system called ‘siteswaps’.

In twenty twenty there is a piece with light balls set very precisely to Steve Reich’s Eight Lines. The piece had a written juggling score, which we sent to all the jugglers before the rehearsals.

 
LC: As a performer and with the kind of work you do, you must need to keep very fit. What do you do to make sure your body is in good condition?

SG: The core Gandini group I think juggles at least a couple of hours a day. On top of this we find cardio and weight training helps. Some dance helps too!  


LC: What’s next for The Gandinis?

Our big next project is called Clown and Queens and it is a 10-juggler piece looking at the absurdity of circus. It premieres next Spring. We are also touring our Finnish show Motet in the USA and reviving our one off visual art piece Chinoiseries for the French Television Channel Arte.

 

You can catch Sean with The Gandinis at the Watch This Space Festival until 29th July.

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