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I seem to be making a habit of underestimating circus acts. This show is the second time in a month that I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by a performance that I had no idea what to expect. Gandini Juggling combines remarkable coordination with Bharatanatyam dancing to create a show displaying a phenomenal level of skill that’s as satisfying as it is mind-boggling.
But before I get onto that, I’ll start with the one thing I didn’t expect from this show was the dialogue. From the first time the performers spoke, I was laughing out loud, and the simple, clipped lines kept the comedy short and sweet. This element was a very well-executed interlude in between the remarkable visual display.
While this might sound strange to say about a show titled Gandini Juggling, but the juggling wasn’t the highlight for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was far from lacklustre, but I found the Bharatanatyam dancing to be my favourite part. Seeta Patel, in particular, was a favourite for me, combining comical facial expressions and a strong character with hypnotic routines that kept me engaged even if my eyes weren’t quite smart enough to work out what was going on at times. That’s not a slight on Patel and the performers; they were just so slick that I struggled to follow what they were doing at times.
I don’t mean to say that Patel was the only one worth watching, though. There wasn’t a single weak performer onstage, and they all had their place. It was easy to believe that they were all one entity at times; they were just that well-coordinated. There wasn’t a single move throughout the piece that didn’t have a purpose; everything the performers did was planned down to such minute detail that they barely had to look at one another while they performed. Throughout all twelve parts of the show, from ‘Screens’ to ‘Symmetry’ to ‘Gratuitous Colours’ (their words, not mine), their quality and discipline was a sight to behold.
The only real qualm I had with the piece was that fact that I felt like I was missing out on a social commentary that would have brought the piece together. It meant that while I was watching there was a part of my mind trying to work out what I was missing, which hindered my enjoyment of the show slightly. I don’t want to say symbolism in performance is a bad idea, and it hardly ruined my experience; it’s just not usually what I go in for.
There was one part that was abundantly clear, though, even to me; the ‘I Hope’ and ‘I Wish’ sections that opened and closed the piece. I mentioned at the start that Gandini’s use of dialogue was a pleasant surprise, and I wasn’t just talking about the comedy. The performers reciting their hyperbolic ‘wishes’ to us while the mirrored screens were moved to give the audience a clear reflection of themselves left an unambiguous ending message; don’t wish for what you haven’t been given, but learn to love what you have. Not that it was something that applied to me at that moment; there was very little about Gandini Juggling not to love.