Circus News

Think Laterally and Trust Wild Ideas: How to Use Your Circus Skills Outside of Circus

Gandini Juggling is a world-renowned juggling company that is known for its collaborations with other art forms. I interviewed founder and director Sean Gandini in order to find out how circus artists can use their skills across disciplines to generate more performance and work opportunities. First, I asked for a run down of the company’s collaborations, which are described as “radical art/juggling fusions.” Most recently, the company was a creative force behind the Philip Glass opera Akhnaten with the Metropolitan Opera House. They have created a trilogy of works with dancers and choreographers specializing in classical ballet, bharatanatyam, and contemporary dance. The list of creative partnerships goes on: composers, fashion designers, brand names such as Hermès, and in the company’s immensely popular production of Smashed, nine jugglers collaborate with 100 apples and the “extraordinary ghost of Pina Bausch.” Similarly, the company is currently making a piece in which they invoke the universe of the late Merce Cunningham, another highly influential modern dance choreographer. Their approach is to ask, what would it be like if Cunningham were to choreograph via juggling? My aim in speaking with Gandini was to get to the root of how the company has been so successful at blending juggling with other art forms and what advice he, as a seasoned collaborator, has for other creators.

Prior to the interview, I was mulling over how artistic mediums have specific creation languages. Dancers working with dancers have an innate language they can speak that may ease a collaborative situation. When artistic genres mix, there is inevitably some disconnect in communication and comprehension. I asked Gandini if he had thoughts or advice about best practices to communicate circus/juggling effectively to people working in other mediums. Most importantly, he said, is “the ability to mold what you do to other things.” He admitted that the company has almost always had an easy time collaborating with other mediums. Partially, this is due to the fact that he felt as though the company never truly fit the traditional circus model. We discussed the difference between layering mediums or disciplines and truly blending them. (Personally, I refer to this difference as multidisciplinary versus hybridization). Gandini said, “If you’re really...

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Madeline Hoak

Madeline is a NYC based performer, producer, professor, and choreographer specializing in aerial, acrobatics, dance and movement direction. She is an adjunct professor of Aerial Arts at Pace University, on staff at Aerial Arts NYC and The Muse Brooklyn and initiated the Aerial program at Muhlenberg College where she taught from 2011 - 2017. Her movement direction contributed to Circle Theater NYC’s production of The Mountain winning Outstanding Original Choreography/Movement, 2015. She co-choreographed The Battles, a musical voted by Broadway producer Ken Davenport one of the top 10 new scripts of 2016. Madeline's choreography has been presented at Dixon Place, Circus Warehouse, BAX, The House of Yes, Abron Arts Center, Times Square, The Flea, STREB, Galapagos, and The Muse. She received BAs in Dance and Theater from Muhlenberg College and is currently studying at NYU’s Gallatin school of Individualized Study where she is designing a master’s degree in circus studies with a focus on dramaturgy and creative processes. madelinehoak.com.