A barefoot dancer and a 90-year-old juggler: Sean Gandini reveals the people who have shaped him and his career.

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Gill Clarke

Gill was a dancer and choreographer with whom we collaborated for our first decade of Gandini Juggling. It was a decade of making pieces in the kitchen. A decade of barefoot dance studios and and non-linear decisions. Gill was an idealist, believing in dance for dance’s sake. Her belief in the redemptive power of art verged on the mystical. She was dedicated to dance and dancers, from her dawn risings to her early nights. She also danced with an otherworldly intensity. The Siobhan Davies archives, which are public and accessible, contain some of her dancing jewels.

Merce Cunningham

I discovered the dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham’s work in the late 1980s. There was something about the complex geometries in his work which spoke to me straight away. I always got an inexplicable exhilaration from watching him, which has never diminished. I admire his unrelenting tenacity and commitment to his artistic beliefs. If ever I doubt my own work, I think of him making work for four decades before being properly recognised. I also love the fact that some of his most luminous work was made in his 1980s and 1990s. Ecstatic nonagenarian.

Wes Peden

Wes is a young North American juggler who lives in Sweden. For the last decade he has created a shared Aladdin’s cave of patterns and routines. Combining virtuosity with a ferocious joie de vivre and inventiveness. I often mention that we are living in the golden age of juggling and indeed, if we are, the age is being spearheaded by Wes and his worthy companions.

Michael Hanneke

Filmmaker Michael Hanneke has created a cinema which inhabits a disturbingly mirrored landscape of complex morality. In a similar way to Pina Bausch, I like the non-prescriptive politics of his art. I have an aversion to the current trend of what I sometimes see as Bolshevik art: happy farmers driving shiny red tractors in the Soviet sun. Sadly, some of the current Circus work falls into this category. I love complex art which assumes intelligence in the viewer, and assumes the viewer has a moral compass.

Richard Dawkins

I read The Blind Watchmaker as a teenager and it was a revelation. Understanding the process of evolution is one of the most enlightening journeys the human mind can go through, and Richard is indubitably one of the most accomplished elucidators of this process. I had a science-based upbringing, for which I am very grateful. I used to naively think that irrational thought would gradually vanish as we all became more educated, but sadly this is not the case. Richard, as well as being perhaps the foremost exponent and elucidator of Darwinian evolution, is also a militant atheist and rationalist, often publicly expressing unfashionable opinions.

Sean Gandini is a founder and Artistic Director of Gandini Juggling.

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