‘I hope this show will be tasteful,' says one of the four women standing in a line at the beginning of Gandini Juggling's new show. ‘I hope the show is about feminism,' says another. They list a whole bunch of things they hope the show will be, some of which it is, some of which it really isn't.
Sigma plays with our expectations of a juggling show. Gandini is probably the best company around at making art out of the practice of throwing and catching a variety of objects. And here they depart a little from the sort of juggling extravaganza you might have seen in their show Smashed, where a huge cast brilliantly create beautiful and precise visual extravaganzas.
This piece is smaller, more compact and more intimate. The company have connected with choreographer Seeta Patel to create an arresting modern riff on south Indian dance and Gandini's own circus mix. It's the company's second recent collaboration with dancers and the medium of Bharatanatyam proves a strong fit. The dancers are as exact as the jugglers.
Though Sigma occasionally feels a little disjointed, there's much to enjoy. Screens are used to hide behind and allow the performers to merge live projections with real-life juggling. To begin with it feels impressive, but fairly predictable, until you realise the two performers are each using different coloured balls. Each of them throws the same colour ball at the same time, to the same height - in time with the projections - in an immensely complicated sequence. There's nothing vague or haphazard about the way these performers move: everything is where it must be.
That goes for the dancers too, who also cross over into juggling a little. The form is all fingers, arms and hands. The rhythms from the dance and the juggling merge into one and are always perfectly synchronised. The performers are direct and sly, introducing us to dances and sections with an engaging sense of humour. The screens soon become infused with kaleidoscopic imagery, which become the backdrop to the piece's routines.
I would have loved a little more spectacle, à la Smashed, but still, Sigma is no let-down. It is a quietly moving meditation on movement, music, tradition and freedom.
Sigma runs at Assembly Hall until 28 August, 13.30.