Saturday, August 15, 2015

4x4 Ephemeral Architectures

I’ve watched a lot of juggling shows. Dozens, probably hundreds. And I’ve put on quite a few. The easiest kinds are the ones where you build anticipation for a difficult or dangerous trick, then do that trick and collect the applause. More difficult are the ones where you weave comedy into your tricks, using the tricks to frame jokes, and using the jokes to set up tricks. Most difficult are the shows where what is happening is simply beautiful. These are so hard because for juggling to be truly beautiful, it must be perfect in a way that evokes an emotional response. You see this most often when a single performer does a very challenging routine against music. But often these routines while technically beautiful, feel emotionally dead. The performer is performing them for you, to impress you, so you come away thinking, wow, that guys is really good. Seldom is the solo performer trying to get you to experience beauty, or an emotional experience. 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures (video trailer here) is like a show I’ve dreamed of, but never thought could really happen. In it, four expert jugglers and four expert ballet dancers perform elegantly choreographed routines by a master choreographer. The entire focus is on creating a beautiful, artful performance, and because there are multiple performers, emotional exchange is natural and inevitable. I have always wondered what it would be like for a really skilled choreographer to work with jugglers to create beauty – the addition of trained dancers makes it even better. The show itself explores the clash of these two cultures, as to fulfill the vision, it was necessary for the jugglers to perform some basic ballet, and for the dancers to perform some basic juggling. Clearly great pains were taken to build routines around what each performer was best at. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to develop this show, four to six months at minimum. I never cried during a juggling performance before. When I put on headphones and practice in my front yard, trying to create beautiful swooping patterns that match the music, this is the kind of juggling I fantasize about being able to do, and this show has given me hope that one day I may do it. 

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