It is an extremely luke-warm and oft-said take to note that circus and dance continue to increasingly cross-pollinate each other, with a vast variety of circus shows now focusing just as much on the meaning of the movement and overall effect of the choreography than the amazing skill and virtuosity of the performers and tricks. Gandini are possibly at the forefront of this movement within the sphere of juggling, at least in the mainstream. Not only are their shows as close to dance as circus (their other show Gibbon has just been nominated for a Total Theatre Award in the category of dance rather than circus) but they seem to lean towards the type of dance that itself leans towards theatre.
Gandini’s shows always balance between an almost mystical, mesmerising atmosphere and a playful sense of fun and silliness. In 8 Songs (and Gibbon for that matter), they lean more towards the playfulness than in many of their other shows – the performers are as much clowns as they are dancers as they are jugglers. Rather than being based on a solid concept or experiment with form (two of Gandini’s previous Fringe shows involved them merging their style with first ballet and then bharatanatyam dance) they instead seem to be capturing the joy of experimenting with and reacting to the fantastic music.
There is a party atmosphere onstage – you will likely recognise most of the songs and the responses to them are for the most part fast-paced and high energy. While I feel most Gandini shows will make you want to learn to juggle, this one makes you wish you could get up there right that second and join the fun.
As well as the sections exuding a pure sense of fun, there is a wealth of different responses to the music that use more experimental or theatrical forms. Often following a song, one of the performers will repeat the lyrics in their entirety responding with different movements to the shifted tone of the words in a different context. In general, there is more talking in 8 Songs than many of Gandini’s shows, reflecting the wider range of responses that are present in the show. Perhaps an encapsulation of Gandini’s style was the gorgeous final section, where all 6 performers juggled a single ball between them, entwining with each other and creating gloriously strange routes for it to follow.
This is a really gorgeous show – it is fun, it is sexy, it is inventive. If I was being really cheeky I’d say if you only had time to see one Gandini show, Gibbon’s more intimate space and cohesive structure make it slightly more compelling, but being honest you’re unlikely to see much better than either at the Fringe – just go see both.
8 Songs is on at at the Assembly Roxy until 27th August 2018. Click here for more details.