4x4 Ephemeral Architectures

Ballet and juggling. Yes, it sounds bonkers but within minutes of this show beginning, the similarities between the two are evident. Both are graceful and seem effortless, though require hard work and concentration to pull off successfully. Put together, they create something extraordinary.

The interweaving of juggling and ballet creates something astonishing.

Precise timing and structure are essential to this piece, as you might derive from its scientific-sounding title. Rhythms are created through vocal sounds, words, the percussion of the performer’s bodies and the sounds of the juggling balls. A dynamic is created between the performers and, despite the fact there are few words, there is humour to be found within this mesmerising production. In fact, these moments provide welcome and well-timed light relief from the intensity of the rest of the performance.

Aesthetically, the show is clean and crisp. All performers wear uniform grey costumes, which create a sleek, streamlined appearance and allows the emphasis to be placed on the movement of their bodies. Atmospheric lighting and a clear, blank stage enhance this effect. When colour does appear onstage, it pops. The performers play games with the colours of balls and other props, which stand out brightly against the greyness.

“There is a system – a way of deciphering everything,” one performer tells us. These poetic moments of insight into the vision and thought behind the performance are excellent. Although it can be taken at face value, as a beautiful and visually engaging show, there is more behind it: an attempt to create something entirely new and fresh by combining two existing types of performance, and this works. The interweaving of juggling and ballet creates something astonishing – but fleeting. As with all art forms, the beauty is short-lived, but in this show you will get a glimpse of something special. 

Reviews by Marni Appleton

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The Blurb

'A show of elegant, wistful beauty' **** (Guardian). 'A splendid blend of talents imbued with both elegance and wit' **** (Times). Tracing pathways in space, four jugglers and four ballet dancers share a stage for the first time. Both these formalised systems are ephemeral journeys through time and space, leaving an unseen trace, like an imaginary architecture. 4 x 4 is a celebration of where these paths meet. Directed by world renowned juggler Sean Gandini, choreographed by the Royal Ballet's Ludovic Ondiviela, with original composition, Suspended opus 69, by Nimrod Borenstein.