Sigma at Bell Square Arts Festival, Hounslow:
On Saturday afternoon I made my second visit to Bell Square in Hounslow, this year, it’s great knowing that every other weekend throughout the summer there’s an accessible outdoor space in the heart of the town which hosts an exciting arts festival. I saw several shows here in 2017, and I’m very much enjoying being back again as the blogger in residence to see a host of new artists and performances this year.
However who could ever have predicted we would have such a wonderful summer, week in week out the sun keeps shining which makes street theatre an even better idea, and I think I’m not the only one who’s enjoying it. The local people seem to be in the know now and crowds seem to gravitate towards the square, filling the seating with an enthusiastic audience of all ages, many who may never have seen a theatre show before. This time we were all were here to see Sigma, a spectacular new production, with collaboration between Gandini Juggling and dazzling Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Seeta Patel, in a compelling new cross art form.
Sigma was presented at Lilian Baylis Studio as part of the 2018 London International Mime Festival, artistic director of Gandini Juggling, Sean Gandini and Seeta Patel, an accomplished bharatanatyam soloist and choreographer, proposed a dialogue or flirtation as Gandini calls it between juggling and bharatanatyam.
My first acting job after leaving drama school many years ago was with a street theatre company in Birmingham, and one of my first tasks was to learn how to juggle, and believe me it’s not easy, but these three women make it look so effortless and elegant.
There was no set apart from two screens which the three performers begin behind, simply juggling balls in the air so we just see their heads and a fountain of coloured balls. Slowly dancer Seeta introduces the audience to her beautiful interpretation of the classical South Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam, creating rhythms and patterns, which cleverly interweave with the talented jugglers. The screens are turned to reveal two mirrors, which add to the illusion and reflect both the audience and the performers.
Sigma is a charming and witty performance, creating a seamless piece of theatre uniting dance, music and percussion with juggling to create a dialogue with the audience, one which uses gesture and geometric patterns with gentle humour and successfully entertains the young and the old. The light and intricate footwork along with the stream of coloured balls, gives the performance a fresh appeal.
In one section they play a ‘Tribute to London’ in which they use both the mediums of dance and juggling and chanting the names of tube stations to perform syncopated rhythms.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Sigma as it seemed did the rest audience. I look forward to returning to Bell Square in a couple of weeks to see what’s next, there’s always an element of surprise and it’s wonderful to discover something new.
So if you get a chance to visit Bell Square this summer they have got a fantastic program of events happening over the coming months. Shows take place every other Saturday both in the afternoons and some evenings, and it’s completely free of charge, so just roll up and take your seat and be entertained.
Hounslow High Street
Hounslow TW3 3HH
For more information: https://www.bellsquarelondon.com/