Last week I went to the Linbury Studio in Covent Garden to watch Gandini Jugglers in their new work, 4x4: Ephemeral Architectures, choreographed by Ludovic Ondiviela, with music for a string quintet, composed by Nimrod Borenstein.
Artistic director, Sean Gandini writes Tracing pathways in space, four jugglers and four ballet dancers share a stage for the first time. 4x4: Ephemeral Architectures is a celebration of where these paths meet. This piece is a return to our love of pure patterns and mathematics, our roots in imagining juggling as a form of dance.
It was one of the most joyful as well as skilful pieces I’ve seen in a long time. The air was alive with the movement of coloured juggling balls, hoops and batons, the dancers weaving around and between, seeming to create continual yet transient patterns of lines crossing, curving and weaving through the space. Much of the performance was beautifully side-lit, and then by a chess-board of light. From time to time the dancers commented on the action, adding another playful dimension. It was clearly an incredibly complex piece, involving silent counting, and split second responses to each other and the objects in flight, but the overall effect was of something very youthful, humorous and magical.
Equally entertaining was listening to Sean Gandini and Ludovic Ondiviela in interview later. As if on a mega caffeine rush, Gandini gabbled on with great energy, the mic being passed between him and his choreographer as if they were still juggling.
But that’s dance at its most skilled and professional. Ballet for adults is something else. After years of teaching contemporary dance and Pilates, over the last year I’ve begun to teach ballet, albeit at a fairly basic level to a small group of adults. I’m convinced of the health benefits. There’s nothing like it for strengthening the legs and feet, and improving balance and co-ordination – all of which are essential as we get older. But more than this is the opportunity to work with music, with the shape and flow of movement, and with different dynamics and rhythm – to actually dance rather than just exercise.
Teaching ballet to children, or to would-be professionals, is one thing – but what are the particular elements involved in teaching adults, who have different abilities, restrictions and requirements, but can nevertheless achieve a great deal? This is something I want to explore and develop over the next few years.
Through my internet browsing I came across Kathy Mata, a teacher based in San Francisco, and found this short film of her teaching truly inspiring. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtuGVjmmmAs
Tricia Durdey dances, writes, and teaches Pilates.