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January 28, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

7 Fingers TRACES

Published 27/8/09 by Arts Hub

When asked to describe Traces, the best thing to do would be to make a kind of weird, gasping noise. That was primarily what I apt to do throughout the entirety of the dance/circus act performance. Just when I least expected something dazzling to happen, it suddenly reared its head and consumed all of my attention. My fascination with the performances in Traces left me wondering just how long it took the artists to attain such a level of skill—and how many injuries were attained in the process.

In short, four men and one woman from Canada let loose their acrobatic talent in this vibrant and energetic circus/dance show. It’s a music act transformed, a mix of thumping music and hip young performers with much more spectacle and enthusiasm than your average lanky grunge band. The dance routines may sometimes get a little repetitive, but I secretly suspect it’s just a ploy to give the acrobats some time to catch their breath. The Canadian accents and the overly-energetic approach does give Traces the faint aura of a typically hyper children’s show, but when the actions speaks beyond words, who cares?

Once you realise that each sequence is performed as a separate piece of the show, it becomes much easier to sit back and watch the performers display all their passion and talent. This was most evident in the giant ring act, where one of the men (whose very long sideburns gave me the distinct impression he is a stand-in for Wolverine) impressed the crowd with his fierce, warrior-like cries, spinning himself to dizzying speeds to a thundering background of Irish rock. The sole woman in the play took the opportunity to let loose a little feminine display with an entrancing performance on a hanging loop of rope, more commonly replaced by a sash in many circus acts.

Ironically, the most impressive element of the show was the failures. Their mistakes, while breaking the trance-like state of the crowd, served as a reminder that the performers were only human. Rather than disengage the crowd, these momentary flunks hypnotised the crowd more than ever, as the performers—adhering to that unspoken code of show business—got up after an unsuccessful attempt to try again, dazzling in the process. The inevitable roar of applause from the audience after the second (now successful) attempt cemented the mantra that when you fall—literally—it’s always worth a second shot.

The teamwork between the group was evident; when they forget they are on stage and focus on the teammate preparing themselves for a difficult trick, their intensity is just as fascinating as the main performer’s concentration.

Having said that, I enjoyed the performers’ ability to not take their craft too seriously—the skateboard sequence was undoubtedly a highlight of the night and an opportunity for the performers to let their hair down. Every performer had his/her moment in the spotlight, and they took advantage of these chances to push the boundaries of what the human body is capable of achieving. That is, however, the one major drawback to seeing a circus show such as Traces; when I watched these agile and lithe acrobats flip and leap around the stage, I instantly felt sheepish for spending more time on the couch than I do at the gym.


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