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KYHIf you want elegance, poise, sophistication and beauty in your street theatre, then look no further than Kati Ylä-Hokkala. I was lucky enough to be just about the first person to see Gandini Juggling’s now legendary Smashed and in that rehearsal room run-through, I remember how hard it was to take your eyes off her. Alongside the energetic exuberance of the rest of the company, there was a beautiful, mesmeric stillness to her work, which provided the solid ground for the anarchy that was to come. Like the women of Piña Bausch, who so strongly influenced the piece, Kati’s provocative half-smile both invited you to admire her while challenging your intrusive gaze. Crawling on her hands and knees with an apple in her mouth like a pig ready for roasting, her chilling indifference seemed to sum up centuries of the female experience. In a piece with so much wonderful physicality, one of the strongest moments is when Kati simply walks upstage, turns her back to us and to the rest of the company; as the men awkwardly watch the younger woman toying with her apples, Kati’s dynamic stillness speaks volumes. One of my favourite Gandini pieces is the first I ever saw, the Duet, in which Kati and her husband/partner/collaborator, Sean, work seamlessly together; each pass of the balls between them represents a lifetime of trust, understanding and experience. It speaks to me of love as richly and eloquently as any sonnet.

Gandini Juggling website

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