Friday, October 19, 2007

Traces Remaining In the Mind - The 7 Fingers' Traces - Review

les 7 doights de la main/ the 7 fingers' TRACES - Panasonic Theatre - Toronto

So let's play a game. How many times can I say AMAZING in one post?

So I went to see Traces last night, by Montreal based circus troupe called The 7 Fingers (or les 7 doights de la main. If you're already thinking, Montreal + Circus = Cirque de Soleil, you're probably not that far off. Where Cirque has elevated the circus to a theatrical fantasy, The 7 Fingers seems to bring it back to an artistic human level. Think edgier, grittier Cirque without all the costumes and surrealism and add in young hot performers in regular street clothes on a set left over from the last performance of Rent. It's Cirque de Soleil performed by the guys at your local skate park (in fact, they incorporate skateboards into one act), an indie Sundance version to Cirque's big Hollywood drama. Though Cirque's latest Kooza pares it all down to the basics of Circustry (is that a word?), The 7 Fingers feels more like a play with incredible circus acts, done with an urban hip-hop feel (with proof in this incredible video, also youtubed at the end of this post, or this promotional video that has good clips of the show (oh, it's on youtube already too, clip after the jump)). It's more traditional than De La Guarda with a combo hip-hop/modern dance vibe but I got the same energetic and raw performance style in Traces.

Traces is performed by 4 young (and hot) guys (who met in California) and 1 beautiful Parisian girl who all met in Montreal at circus school and have been developing this show for a couple of years now. The slight narrative is something about being trapped in a bomb shelter after a disaster hits the world (I think), and something allegorical about leaving traces of one selves. It creates an extremely lyrical play but really, it's about letting the 5 AMAZINGLY talented performers play around on the stage. And by play, I mean run, jump, dance, sing, play music (they ALL play the piano, sometimes at the same time, sometimes continuing each other on the same piece), run up poles, flip, flip some more, flip through hoops, flip over each other and flip our minds.

We connect with them because we meet them as individuals through a hilarious passing on the mic sequence and the boys seem like those guys next door (Brad Henderson, brothers Raphael Cruz and Francisco Cruz, and William Underwood) while the girl (Héloïse Bourgeois) has a flirty romantic feel, she's definitely Parisian for sure! Then they start moving. The fluidity of these 5 simply oozes movement to the point where their circus acts look so simple, so easy to do, that we are convinced that everyone can do it. Until you snap back into reality and realise. No, No I cannot move my body like that. Doing a handstand on TOP of someone's head isn't as easy as they make it look. Climbing a pole with just the hands (while the bodies are contorted towards the sides, top, bottom and various other positions) is not as simple as they make it look.

The simple act of bouncing a basketball becomes a whirlwind worthy of getting your head into the game. Reading a book becomes a restless and exciting act. Even playing the piano (while the book reading sequence is going on) becomes a lesson in fluidity as the Cruz brothers continually take over each other as they perform an original piece by Francisco (THEY COMPOSE TOO???). The boys bring a new meaning to pole dancing as they flip and climb up the central set pieces like monkeys at the zoo. Seriously, you have to see the arm muscles on these guys. Brad goes in the "ring" which honestly, seems like a whole lot of fun, while Héloïse gets to hang from a rope. The brothers jump all over each other, spinning, flipping in a play dance, all while set to pulsating music, from Electronica to Radiohead. Seriously, AMAZING!

Traces runs to Nov. 18th in Toronto before it continues on to Montreal (Dec. 18 - 31 2007) and New York at the New Victory Theatre (Feb. 8th - Mar. 3 2008) . Here's The Toronto Star's review (3.5/4) which was filed under Dance actually.

The 7 Fingers other shows include Loft (opening in London Dec. 6 2007 and Toronto in Spring 2008). The AMAZING video clip of the 5 performers doing their tricks on the street is after the jump (along with the promotional clip), along with more photos:

Here's the promotional video:

All images from the Traces website.

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