Of all the joyous and impressionable events of childhood, the circus holds a prominent place, carried forward by our inner child as we advance in years. Presently, we are fortunate to witness a refinement of this art form, which concentrates on human skills, rather than the subjugation of animals.
Most of us have delighted in Cirque du Soleil, which shares a campus in Montreal with the National Circus School, but the overflowing wealth of talent coming out of that school and the Circus School of Quebec, plus others in Europe and China, is pushing the boundaries of the artform, as we see in Traces, from Seven Fingers, a seasoned group also out of that lovely island city in the St. Lawrence River.
Photo: Michael Meseke
From the beginning, it's clear that this is a more personal circus, not only with the performers sharing details about themselves, but also with the video cameras that capture the performers and audience. We share in the joys of the performers in a refreshing new ways.
The acrobatics are grand. We never cease to marvel at the capabilities of the human form, given the heart and will to share a passion. And, of course, there are other familar disciplines, including the Cyr Wheel, Chinese Poles and Hoops, and the Teeter Board, which launches even the heftiest of the troupe—all thrilling.
Photo: Mime Festival
But it is the unexpected pleasures that set Traces apart from other shows, including a stunning dance sequence with astounding acrobatic elements, whizzing skateboards, Harlem Globetrotter-inspired basketball antics, and a boarded-up piano upon which most of the group performs. Because the seven performers have shared their motivations, their interplay during and between each segment brings a cohesion to the proceedings that is deeper than what we've seen in similar shows here and in Las Vegas.
The interspersion of mime-inspired scenes—with simple props ranging from the performers' resin to a marking pen used for sketching on the performers' shirts—supports an artistic throughline that is bolstered by the effective video display, which mixes live shots with stock footage leveraged for mood and historical commentary. The soundtrack rocks as well, with samplings drawn from Radiohead, Blackalicious, and other pop artists.
|Hand to Hand|
Photo: Michael Meseke.
Denver Center Attractions presentation of Traces runs through May 11th. 303-893-4100 or denvercenter.org.