A man grasps a goalpost, swings himself into the air, and stays there, his body perfectly horizontal. This should be impossible: what happened to gravity? After twisting himself around the crossbar, this prodigy is chivvied offstage by a whistle-blowing referee.
Kataklo Athletic Dance Theatre appeared in the opening ceremony of the Turin Winter Olympics, and sport is clearly still on their minds. The seven dancers, all trained gymnasts, play with the images of various sports, throwing in some astonishing feats. A charming tennis couple flirt, diving and doing handstands as they spin their rackets, while 1930s Italian songs play in the background. Cyclists flip over and around the handlebars of their fixed bicycles. The synchronised swimmers, poised on a dry stage, dip and pose, giving an odd illusion of holding their breaths.
Giulia Staccioli, Kataklo's artistic director, has worked with the American company Momix, and shows the same fondness for gymnastic illusions. She relies on music to fix the atmosphere, from the aforementioned Thirties songs to sludgy light rock. The set-ups are often witty, while the strength and skill of her performers is marvellous. I loved the skiers, who lean far, far forwards, straight bodies almost touching the floor, held up by their boots.
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