4x4 Ephemeral Architectures

Striking a whimsical balance between juggling and ballet

★★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2015

The arts of ballet and juggling have several qualities in common: both require enormous dedication, concentration and physical prowess from their performers, and are capable of impressing far beyond their natural audiences. As a result, the combination presented by 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures – directed by illustrious juggler Sean Gandini and choreographed by the Royal Ballet's Ludovic Ondiviela – yields a juxtaposition that is both natural and mutually complementary. That said, the show acknowledges there is no profound link between the two skill sets, a refreshingly honest approach which allows them to be merged simply for the novel joy of doing so. 

Four jugglers and four ballet dancers syncopate their respective specialities in a seamless blend of graceful movement, artfully framed by minimalist use of ethereal light and smoke. What elevates 4x4 from merely an expert demonstration, however, is a welcome dose of whimsy, which counteracts how seriously the performers undoubtedly take their craft. When one of the dancers is raised and carried across the stage, she lets out an unexpected and childlike "Wheee!", providing one of the show's most welcome laughs.

Unfortunately, 4x4's verbal component, though not overbearing, isn't always as successful: while the performers' spoken interjections and sound effects provide a rhythm to their flourishes, they can occasionally prove distracting, gilding a lily that might be better left to the gorgeous original composition that serves as the show's soundtrack. Nevertheless, audiences will find much to appreciate in this celebration of the human form and its manifold capabilities.