Gandini Juggling Alexander Whitley Spring - Peak Performances

Page 1

American Premiere

Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley

Photo by Simon Carter


December 12–15, 2019 Alexander Kasser Theater

Dr. Susan A. Cole, President Daniel Gurskis, Dean, College of the Arts Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director, Arts + Cultural Programming

American Premiere

Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley


Director Sean Gandini Rehearsal Director Emma Lister Choreographer Alexander Whitley Composition and Electronics Gabriel Prokofiev Lighting Designer Guy Hoare Costume Designer Claire Ashley Cast Kati Ylä-Hokkala, Kim Huynh, Liza van Brakel, Tristan Curty, Dominik Harant, Yu-Hsien Wu, Sakeema Crook, Erin O’Toole, Tia Hockey, Wes Peden Technical Director Chris Swain General Manager Marina Arranz Guilarte Executive Producer Rae Lee Tour Booking and International Development Axel Satgé Company Administrator Hélène Roques

First Impressions: Saturday, December 14, post-performance discussion Share your first impressions with Sean Gandini, Kati Ylä-Hokkala, Alexander Whitley, and moderator Ruth Juliet Wikler, TOHU (Montreal).

Spring is co-produced with Cambridge Junction; London International Mime Festival; and Plateforme 2 pôles Cirque en Normandie / La Brèche à Cherbourg et le Cirque-Théâtre d’Elbeuf. Spring is supported by artsdepot; Arts Council England; Birmingham Hippodrome; CIRCa pôle National des Arts du Cirque Auch Gers Occitanie; Lighthouse Poole; Theater op de Markt. Duration: 60 minutes, no intermission. In consideration of both audiences and performers, please turn off all electronic devices. The taking of photographs or videos and the use of recording equipment are not permitted. No food or drink is permitted in the theater.

Program Notes Gandini Juggling’s Spring embraces deconstructed rhythms and jubilant patterning. A kaleidoscopic show, Spring is visually arresting from the outset and at the vanguard throughout. It is an innovative cross–art form experience challenging notions of movement and physicality, exploring the relationships between contemporary dance, circus, and music. The piece follows on from Gandini Juggling’s successful forays into dance and theater and delves deeper into the company’s obsession with juggling as a pure choreography. It builds on Sean Gandini’s time flirting with various neighboring art forms and their findings, from directing the Skills Ensemble in ENO’s opera Akhnaten to performing their own Pina Bausch–inspired show, Smashed, and their marriage of ballet and juggling in 4x4: Ephemeral Architectures. Director Sean Gandini and contemporary choreographer Alexander Whitley share a passion for pure form. For them, it is in the limits of the language where dance and juggling unfold their revealing power. Composer Gabriel Prokofiev joins Gandini and Whitley with a score of magical urban baroque and lighting designer Guy Hoare who uses the presence of colors and their echoes to describe a journey. Costume designer Claire Ashley dresses the production’s virtuosic cast of jugglers and contemporary dancers.

About the Company Gandini Juggling has for over two decades been one of the world’s most prolific and adventurous circus companies. Founded with the aim of fusing juggling and dance, they have pushed the artistic and technical boundaries of juggling, resulting in performances that delight, astound, and defy easy categorization. Iconic and iconoclastic in equal measure, Gandini Juggling has changed the perception of what juggling is and can be—transforming what might be considered a parlor trick into a rich and distinctive art form in its own right. This virtuosic approach to their discipline has led to numerous collaborations across the arts and has resulted in the company performing over 5,000 shows in 50 countries around the world. For Sean Gandini, director and co-founder of the internationally acclaimed company, the interaction between different art forms, each with its different aesthetics and rules, is the basis for a fascinating and creative process. There is one art form to which the company has repeatedly returned. From this season’s debut of Akhnaten at the Metropolitan Opera to the company’s ballet collaboration 4x4 and their bharatanatyam piece, Sigma, this work, Spring with Alexander Whitley, sees the Gandinis drawn once again to dance. The company is also currently working on a new piece entitled LIFE, based around juggling interpretations of Merce Cunningham’s work.

Where page and stage converse. PEAK Journal is a place for exploratory conversations between live art and the written word. Available in the lobby or on-line. In a time when traditional arts journalism seems evermore embattled and diminished, it is crucial to have thoughtful, nuanced writing about the arts, and to acknowledge that criticism itself is a literary art form. Who is writing about the art, and how they are allowed to write about that art, is just as important as who is making it. Claudia La Rocco, Editor Page 11 of the PEAK Journal | “Circus Translations” by Colin Gee

Further program content, including artist bios, may be found at

Staff Office of Arts + Cultural Programming

College of the Arts

Jedediah Wheeler, Executive Director Stephanie Haggerstone, Managing Director Jill Dombrowski, Producing Director J. Ryan Graves, Director of Production Chrissy D’Aleo Fels, Cultural Engagement Director Camille Spaccavento, Marketing & Media Director Robert Hermida, Audience Services Director Regina Vorria, Associate Producer Andy Dickerson, Production Coordinator Colin Van Horn, Technical Director Andrew R. Wilsey, Master Stage Electrician Jeff Lambert Wingfield, Box Office Manager Patrick Flood/Flood Design, Art Director Blake Zidell Associates, Media Representatives Natalie Marx, Media Creator Martin Halo, Webmaster Susan R. Case, Copy Editor Bart Solenthaler, Program Layout Design Maureen Grimaldi, House Manager Stephanie Benjamin-Flores, Vici Chirumbolo, Kevin Johnson, Production Run Crew Nickie Delva, Eliza Dumas, Student Assistants

Daniel Gurskis, Dean Ronald L. Sharps, Associate Dean Linda D. Davidson, Assistant Dean Marie Sparks, Director of Administration Zacrah S. Battle, College Administrator Abby Lillethun, Art and Design Thomas McCauley, John J. Cali School of Music Keith Strudler, School of Communication and Media Randy Mugleston, Theatre and Dance Patricia Piroh, Broadcast and Media Operations Elizabeth McPherson, PhD, Director of Dance

The Office of Arts + Cultural Programming (ACP) enhances the cultural, creative, and academic life of the Montclair State campus and the broader community. Its signature program, PEAK Performances, features innovative works by international contemporary artists of exceptional merit, and by the next generation of great artists training at Montclair State University’s College of the Arts. Through its Cultural Engagement program, ACP offers master classes, workshops, lectures, and discussions designed to deepen participants’ understanding of the aesthetic, cultural, and social contexts of the performances presented. ACP gratefully acknowledges our student staff and volunteers: Box Office Representatives Alexis Amore, Jose Baez, Crystal Bass, Jacob Batory, Imani Carney, I’meera Coston-Cox, Noelle Florio, Dale Harris, Tony Jordan, Shannon Mulraney, Vic Ortiz, Gabriella Presilla, Martin Pyda, Tamir Rios, Will Taylor, Tashae Udo, Lauren Winston Assistant House Managers William Collins, Jocelyn Hernandez Ushers Eleziel Castro, Andrew DeSisto, Patzy Gutierrez, Katherine Hall-Lapinski, Azariah Johnson, Ivy Meyer, Joseph Respicio, Christie Rosales, Steven Ruiz, Madalyn Rupprecht, Nia Soanes, Danielle Sossi, Belah Watson

Next Up Shanghai Quartet February 8, 2019 @ 8:00pm

Programs in this season are made possible in part by funds from: The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts Discover Jersey Arts New England Foundation for the Arts–National Dance Project PEAK Performances is in partnership with WNET’s All Arts. PEAK Patrons: Mary Brislin; Susan Campbell; Yong Chang; Joanna Conrad; Bob Fisher/Monroe Denton; Paul Horowitz; Eric Levin; Karen Lundry; Michael Peroff; Gerard Piserchia, Jr. To view our complete season and for more information, visit @peakperfs


About the Artists Sean Gandini (Director) is one of the pioneers of contemporary juggling. Working as a performer, choreographer, and director he has, for over 25 years, pushed the boundaries of juggling as a discipline and as an art form. Gandini began his professional career in the 1980s, regularly performing in London’s famous Covent Garden and touring with various theater companies, including the pioneering Ra-Ra Zoo. In 1991, with Kati Ylä-Hokkala, he co-founded Gandini Juggling, and together they have been at the forefront of experiments into what juggling is and what juggling can be. Emma Lister (Rehearsal Director) was born in Canada and trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. On moving to England, she danced with English National Ballet in several productions at the Royal Albert Hall. With English Youth Ballet she danced lead roles in Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, and Swan Lake as well as principal roles in the National Ballet of Ireland’s The Nutcracker and Carmen. Her rehearsal director experience includes Icon Dance, the National Ballet of Ireland, and Hubert Essakow’s Terra. Lister is currently studying for a BA in Humanities. Alexander Whitley (Choreographer) is working at the cutting edge of British contemporary dance and, as artistic director of Alexander Whitley Dance Company, has developed a reputation for a bold interdisciplinary approach to dance making. He has created work for several of the UK’s leading companies, including the Royal Ballet, Rambert, Balletboyz, Candoco, and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Whitley is a New Wave associate artist at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, an associate at Rambert, and a former choreographic affiliate of the Royal Ballet. His choreography has won him nominations for the 2012 Arts Foundation fellowship, the 2014 Sky Arts Southbank Awards, and the 2015 Critics’ Circle Awards. Gabriel Prokofiev (Composer) is a composer, producer, DJ, and founder of the Nonclassical record label and club night. He is at the forefront of a new approach to classical music, composing work for traditional symphony orchestra, string quartets, and electronics, and has composed three concertos featuring turntables. Prokofiev’s works have been performed internationally by a host of orchestras including Seattle

Symphony, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Moscow State Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Luxembourg Philharmonique, Buenos Aires Filharmonica, Naples Philharmonic, and London Contemporary Orchestra. Conductors and soloists such as Vladimir Jurowski, Ludovic Morlot, DJ Mr Switch, Joby Burgess, and Branford Marsalis have championed his music. He has composed more than eight dance works for renowned companies such as Stuttgart Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, Luzerner Tanz Theater, Bern Ballet, and Shobana Jeyasingh. Guy Hoare (Lighting Design) designs lighting for juggling, dance, theater, and opera. Spring is his fourth collaboration with Gandini Juggling. Dance credits include Arthur Pita’s Metamorphosis and Mark Bruce’s Dracula (South Bank Award 2012/2014) and works for Rafael Bonachela, Christopher Bruce, Nilda Guerra, Shobana Jeyasingh, Akram Khan, and Ben Wright. Theater work includes National Theatre, Young Vic, Royal Court, Donmar Warehouse, and transfers to the West End and New York. Opera work includes English Touring Opera’s King Priam and Paul Bunyan (Olivier Award 2014) and pieces for the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, and Bregenz Festival. Hoare is an associate artist at Wilton’s Music Hall. Claire Ashley (Costume Designer) is a London-based costumier with an extensive background in design and technical construction. She studied fashion and design in New Zealand, discovering the world of costuming through the site-specific dance company All and Sundry. Ashley has run her East London studio since 2002. She has costumed stars of the international cabaret, circus, and performance art world, including Empress Stah, Marisa Carnesky, Yammel Rodriguez, and Ursula Martinez. Her latest projects were Black Cat, Bohemia, and an over-50s dance piece for Duckie.

Performers Kati Ylä-Hokkala is one of her generation’s iconic jugglers. As a co-founder of Gandini Juggling she has not only built a reputation as a highly skilled technical juggler but is also renowned as one of the leading innovators in dance-juggling. A former rhythmic gymnast, Ylä-Hokkala has performed in all but one of Gandini’s works since 1991, performing in over 2,500 shows. In recent years she has co-directed many of the company’s pieces. Ylä-Hokkala’s own performances are always accompanied by a unique calm precision, a precision that comes from decades of throwing while standing on one leg.

Kim Huynh trained in classical dance from the age of four in Germany. She continued in contemporary dance and received her dance certificate in 2003 at the Conservatoire de Saint Denis in France. Self-taught in juggling from the age of 10, Huynh has been working since 2004 as a professional juggler in companies that combine dance and juggling, such as the Cie Jérôme Thomas, Cie 14:20, and Gandini Juggling. In 2008 she co-founded the French company Sens Dessus Dessous, which focuses on choreographed juggling, merging dance, object manipulation, and juggling. Wes Peden designs juggling pieces to perform in space stations and parking lots. He has performed in more than 25 countries, including Japan, Israel, Australia, and Iceland. His energetic, complex, and playful juggling style has won him awards from the International Juggling Association and the festival Cirque de Demain. Peden takes inspiration from sumo wrestling, fast-food packaging, and 1950s playgrounds and as well as performing with Gandini Juggling he has produced several solo productions, including Zebra, Volcano vs. Palm Tree, and Béton. Tristan Curty grew up in a circus family and had the opportunity to practice and develop his juggling skills from childhood. Curty studied at the professional circus school in Lille, France. Curty now performs with several companies, including Gandini Juggling, Les Objets Volants, and Collectif Merci LaRattrape. Sakeema Crook trained at London Contemporary Dance School, graduating with a first-class honors degree. Crook has been working in contemporary and commercial settings, including dancing in music videos, gallery exhibitions, and fashion promotions. Crook has performed in works by Pablo Bronstein, Holly Blakey, N’da Dance Company, Hubert Essakow, Fevered Sleep, and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance. Crook joined Alexander Whitley Dance Company and Tavaziva Dance in 2017 and traveled to South Africa with Dane Hurst’s Moving Assembly Project. Most recently, projects included The Game by Hubert Essakow and Spring by Gandini Juggling. Liza van Brakel was born in the Netherlands and learned circus skills from a young age. She trained at the University of Arts in Rotterdam and during this time she explored juggling combined with floor-acrobatics. In 2017 van Brakel graduated from Codarts Circus Arts and since then she has been internationally touring and performing her solo piece Ain’t No Easy Way Out. Besides her solo work van Brakel has the honour of performing in Gandini Juggling’s show Spring.

Yu-Hsien Wu is a freelance dancer based in London, England. She has worked with various artists and choreographers such as Russell Maliphant, Marina Mascarell, Morgann Runacre-Temple, and Ming-Lung Yang. Wu’s self-choreographed solo Dirty Paw was selected and performed on the closing night of Resolution 2018, and previous works Childhood and Cross have won awards from Chin-Lin Foundation Dance Alliance and Next Choreography Project. Wu is currently working with Gandini Juggling and Alexander Whitley Dance Company. Tia Hockey graduated with a bachelor of dance degree from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where she also attained the Royal Academy of Dance Solo Seal Award. Now a London-based freelancer, she works closely with Alexander Whitley Dance Company touring several works nationally and internationally, including 8 Minutes, Noumena, Between Two Fires, and Strange Stranger. Hockey has also worked on projects with James Cousins Company, Richard Chappell, and BalletWorks. In 2017, Hockey joined Gandini Juggling for the creation, premiere, and tour of Spring. Erin O’Toole was born in Airdrie, Scotland, and trained at the Dance School of Scotland and Central School of Ballet in London, touring with Ballet Central in her final year and graduating with a first-class BA honors degree. O’Toole has worked with the National Ballet of Ireland and joined Gandini Juggling in 2014 for their show 4x4: Ephemeral Architectures, which has toured worldwide to critical acclaim. She has also performed in their shows Meta, Cascade, and StacKcats. Dominik Harant is an Austrian juggler who began training at 13 years of age. He continued to practice every day and developed a passion for the art, which has seen him and his team, Jonglissimo, win 20 world records to date for team juggling and twice win the Juggling World Championships. Harant spent over five years working as a steelworker before becoming a professional juggler in 2015 and is currently touring the multimedia art and juggling show QBS with Jonglissimo as well as performing in Spring for Gandini Juggling.