Q&A with circus artists José Triguero and Gemma Palomar about 'Cul de Sac' the show

Where did Cul de Sac begin? What inspired it?

A few years ago we created a 4 min. video of a juggling/movement routine.

Daisy Drury from National Centre for Circus Arts asked if we have a 20min. piece to perform at Resolution 2015 because she really liked the video. At that moment we didn’t have anything but we thought it was a good opportunity to create more material, so we said YES, and we spent 4 weeks in January/ February ending up with a 20mins piece that we performed at Resolutions at The Place in London. 

We had a really good feedback from the audience and also an enquiry from Adrian Berry to perform at Postcards Festival that summer, so we decided to continue developing material and we performed a 40 mins version at Jacksons Lane. Again we received a very warm response from the audience and we thought it had potential to develop into a full length piece. 

So we applied for different funds and finally we received Arts Council England funding for the last R&D, production and premier for the show now in 2017. 

What inspired us the most came from the urge to create a personal/intimate piece. We are very good friends and we believe we have a special chemistry on stage. Relating with the aesthetic and theme of the piece, we’ll say that there were two main things that inspired Cul de Sac. One is Barbe bleue from Pina Bausch and a book from Spanish writer Jose Luis Sampedro call “ El amante lesbiano” (The lesbian lover). 

Both touch themes like human relationships, the complexity of gender identity, pleasure vs. pain, a look into the depths of passions…

Is this the first time you have performed together? Can you tell us a little about how you work together?

No. While we were studying at NCCA, we performed together in a couple of Cabarets. In  2010 after winning Deutsche Bank Pyramid Awards, we create a company with two other friends. We made a show called “H” that premiered at Jacksons Lane in 2011. After this for a while we took different paths, José started to work with Gandini Juggling and Gemma did a contract in China. It’s difficult to stay committed to working as a company when each member receives different offers – also we were quite young then and it is useful to work with other, larger companies for a while. But then we started again in 2015 and began working on Cul de sac.

For Cul de sac, mainly José arrived with an ignition point, proposing a visual input/concept/idea in movement accompanied with a music and theme (in a very Freudian way). Then we jump into the room and we develop it together.  Normally is quite visceral and intuitive journey. We arrive at common agreement points easily because we have a very good understanding of each other. 

Can you describe the process of making Cul de Sac? Is it a collaboration? 

Cul the sac it is been a very slow cooking process so it has pros and cons. The total amount of creation it is been around 10 intensive weeks in two years period. In many ways we had to be very practical when we were together in a room, but it was very good to have time in between, to digest, process and think about new ideas. We didn’t have as much time as we would like to play together and also big contra is that each time we reunite we have to spend time remembering the existing choreographies.

As we don’t live in the same place, José has been leading the project and finding support and funding for it, so he is leading in that respect, during the creation it is more of a collaboration between the two of us plus other ‘outside eyes’ – Pablo Meneu, a good friend who was in our first company as well has been contributing to developing the aerial concept with the platform; Fabian Wixe, another friend who is working specifically on the acrobatic and movement side – it’s important to have his expertise in movement as it pushes us beyond our comfort zones. We have chosen this way rather than working with one director as we see ourselves as active artists/creators. In the final week John Nicholson will help us with dramaturgy, structure, humour and timing. So yes it’s a different process from theatre or dance and definitely collaborative.

What should the audience expect from Cul de Sac?


Interesting question, I think in part it depends on the audiences expectations of ‘circus’ – still a lot of people imagine clowns and tigers when they hear the word…but this is changing. Audiences can expect to see an unusual piece, one that uses the skills we have in circus, like juggling and Chinese pole, but in a more connected way and not purely presented for applause. We hope Cul de Sac will be the kind of show that lingers with you after you have seen it, strong images that come back to you or perhaps a moment in your own life might remind you of a scene.

Hm this is our copy – we certainly like the tagline…

An intimate, brave, fresh show. A journey beyond the stereotypical male-female relationship. Combining astonishing physicality with evocative imagery and humour, Cul de Sac is at once entertaining, troubling and touching, light and dark. Circus for grown ups.

What are you most looking forward to during the tour?

We’re looking forward to performing the full-length show!! It is a climax of a long process and it feels like we have been on a long journey together. It’s great to have the opportunity perform together more than once and to try the piece in different spaces with different audiences. We will hold Q&A’s everywhere we go and we’re looking forward to see what people read from the show and which interpretation they take from it. 

See 'Cul de Sac' at Déda on Thursday 2 March at 7.30pm

Age guidance 14+




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