Think Laterally Trust Wild Ideas Circus Skills Outside Circus

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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.
Sean Gandini. Photographer: Camilla Greenwell Gandini. 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 ha...
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Madeline Hoak

Madeline Hoak is an artist and academic who creates with, through, and about circus. She is a Writer for CircusTalk, Adjunct Professor of Aerial Arts and American Circus History at Pace University, Editor and Curatorial Director of TELEPHONE: an international arts game, and curator and director of Cirkus Moxie, a weekly contemporary circus show at Brooklyn Art Haus. Madeline has performed, coached, produced, and choreographed at elite regional and international venues. Her background in dance and physical theater is infiltrated into her coaching and creation style. She is passionate about providing her students holistic circus education that includes physical, historical, theoretical resources. Madeline initiated the Aerial Acrobatics program at her alma mater, Muhlenberg College, where she taught from 2012-2017. She is also a regular contributor to Cirkus Syd's Circus Thinkers international reading group. Her circus research has been supported by Pace, NYU, and Concordia University. Recent publications include "Teaching the Mind-Body: Integrating Knowledges through Circus Arts'' (with Alisan Funk, Dan Berkley), a chapter in Art as an Agent for Social Change, "expanding in(finite) between," a multimedia essay in Circus Thinks: Reflections, 2020, and "Digital Dance & TELEPHONE: A Unique Spectator Experience." Madeline has presented academic papers at numerous conferences including Circus and its Others (UC Davis), International Federation for Theatre Research (University of Reykjavík), the Popular Culture Association, Gallatin (NYU), and McGill University. Madeline earned an MA from Gallatin, New York University’s School of Independent Study, where she designed a Circus Studies curriculum with a focus on spectatorship.