Two years ago, on the Fringe, we got euphorically Smashed! with Gandini Juggling – a quick-witted and cunningly dexterous performance that won a Herald Angel award for the superlative way it juggled ideas as well as objects. Those objects included apples, chairs and lots of crockery. The ideas? They drew elements of inspiration from the late Pina Bausch, whose creative preoccupation with the love-hate tussles between men and women surfaced in choreographies full of angsty chaos and ordered formalities.

Now Gandini are back on the Fringe with a new show, 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures, and the interaction between juggling and dance is even more centre-stage: four ballet dancers perform alongside four jugglers in a criss-crossing of dynamics and disciplines, music (composed by Nimrod Borenstein) and vocalised sounds You could, however, say that in going forward Gandini have gone back. Back to the early days of the company – formed in 1992 by Sean Gandini and Kati Ylä-Hokkala – when the way that jugglers moved around a space was as intrinsic to their innovative work as the exceptional hand/eye co-ordination that kept all the hoops (and more) in the air. Take Septet, which came to the Fringe in 1997. Woven through the ensemble ball-passing and solo bursts of virtuosity ran a theme of questioning gravity, while defying its “what goes up must come down” inevitability. Dancer and choreographer, the late Gill Clarke, knew all about bodies and gravitational pull in contemporary movement – who better to help shape Septet, with its scaffolding structures and balancing jugglers caught up the meshes of time, space and the cosmic laws that govern them?

Sean Gandini laughs as he remembers those beginnings, then says of this new piece “Gill would have had a heart attack at our using ballet! But I think if she could ignore the ballet technique, she would recognise that it goes back to some of our original ideas about dance, and juggling as a dance.” He’s referring not just to the ever-present “practice!practice!practice!” regime that has to be sustained day in day out, but also to the ephemeral nature both disciplines share in performance. Even as the eye is registering a moment – an arabesque, the air-borne cascade of flying hoops – it’s already over: the only trace is a lingering memory. It’s Gandini’s own heightened awareness of this transience that feeds into the company’s highly-acclaimed reputation for work that combines sophisticated scientific conjectures, living mathematics and genuinely family-friendly entertainment. It’s philosophy with a curve ball, and a sense of humour – especially when, as in life, an intention slips between fingers and hits the floor.

Putting possibilities into practice for 4x4 meant, of course, finding ballet dancers who could go with the flow of Gandini’s process. “We held auditions,“ he says. “But where Ludo (Ondiviela, former Royal Ballet First Artist and 4x4 choreographer) was looking at them with a classical eye, we just needed to know that they wouldn’t be scared! We had in mind a twelve minute sequence – grids of club passing, that the dancers would go through – and we needed to be sure that our dancers could weave in among the moving jugglers, not lose rhythm or sense of direction during that time. And yes, the clubs would be flying overhead all the time!”

As if that wasn’t unnerving enough, Gandini’s audition also including a voice test. “There’s not all that much text,” he says. “But not all ballet dancers are comfortable with speaking in performance. And there’s a playful side to it that’s not in the classical repertoire.” You can hear the twinkle of amusement in his own voice here. This entry into the realms of classical ballet has proved something of a learning curve for him too. “It’s funny the paths you take into discovering art forms. I thought what our dancers were doing was classical ballet – I was informed that it was more like Balanchine, it was neo-classical. So now I’ve come from Cunningham – whom I love dearly – to Balanchine and ballet... and now I’m obsessed. I’m doing ballet class, and I’ve started doing pointe-work!” For Sean Gandini, that progression is a logical extension of the connections he’s been making between juggling and dance from the beginning. Not simply the shared reliance on balance and focus, or the ability to know – as if an internal GPS was constantly mapping – the who and where of other people in the surrounding space.The revelatory linkage is in the aesthetic of creating an architecture out of rhythms, a kind of calligraphy that is written on air. And somehow, audiences can feel it, beyond what they can see – perhaps appreciate that most of the building blocks in our own life are dancing in the ether, too. We have to take their movements for-granted, but in 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures we can watch objects orbiting around spinning dancers as Gandini Juggling build grand designs in the air.

Gandini Juggling present 4x4 Ephemeral Architectures at Assembly George Square Theatre to August 30