Friday, 18 April 2014

Smashed - at Udderbelly Festival

THIS year's Udderbelly Festival is now in full swing and promises a veritable feast of acts between now and when it ends in July.
Among those making its debut in the purple upside down cow tent is London-based Gandini Juggling.
This nine-strong group promises to wow audiences with its hour long show, Smashed.
A mesmerising mix of circus and theatre, and inspired by the work of the late German dancer and choreographer, Pina Bausch, Smashed will feature the jugglers perform with four crockery sets and 80 apples.
"It's very choreographed and has an element of dance within it although it's not a dancy show," explains the company's boss Sean Gandini.
"There is no story as such but there is a narrative running through it so different members of the audience will take different things from it.
"But it's ornate and fun and there is a real pattern to it with the apples.
"There is also a theatrical context because it is based on the ideas, choreography and dances of Pina Bausch and plays a bit with formality and the relationships with men and women," he adds.
"We are not a circus group, nor are we musicians or dancers but we do combine all those elements with theatre and juggling within our act and we have scores and mathematical notations to make patterns with the apples.
"It's also got to be very precise so we practise between three and four hours a day which is quite intense!"
The company was set up 20 years ago by Sean who was born and grew up in Cuba.
"I grew up in Havana and was fascinated by magic and mathematics as a child," he says. "I started off doing a few magic tricks which included a bit of juggling as most magicians know how to juggle but one day I saw a professional juggler and it completely hypnotised me.
"I got obsessed by it and taught myself - this was before the advent of all the circus skills classes you could go to - and that was it. I was hooked!"
He came to London started performing in Covent Garden where he met his Finnish-born wife Kati Ylä-Hokkala.
"We met after her career as a rhythmic gymnast had ended and she became as obsessed as me about juggling," he laughs. "We set up the company and that was it.
"I am very lucky as I have a great team of jugglers. They are like my extended family!" he laughs.
Since then, Gandini Juggling has made a name for itself with its clever and intricate juggling sets and has performed in more than 2,500 shows from art galleries to palaces, street corners to stadiums.
But it is the first time the company has performed at the Udderbelly Festival.
"We were approached by the organisers when we were at the Edinburgh Festival last year as they had seen us perform and thought what we do would be a good fit for Udderbelly," says Sean.
"We are all so excited to be here as the atmosphere is fantastic when you come to the Udderbelly. Also, as we are based in London, to be doing a run of shows on home soil is fantastic.
"It also means we can indulge in our ballet addictions in the afternoon and do some classes!"
As well as the 28-date run the company will also be doing a 'come and have a go' juggling lesson near the London Eye on the South Bank on Tuesday next week (22nd April) at 4pm.
Anyone will be free to come along, bring some apples, and try their hand at juggling, guided by these world-famous maestros.
And Sean says they are all excited about being in the purple tent.
"It's such a fun thing to look at from the outside but inside it has a fantastic stage. It's not very big - in fact it's quite intimate, but that's great because the audience will be so close to the action and we hope they will feel very much part of it.
"It's going to be amazing."

Smashed is on at Udderbelly between April 22 and May 18. Tickets from £12.50. Visit or call the box office on 0844 545 8252

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