Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

September 29, 2011


The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through October 9, 2011
by Emily List

The five young performers in “Traces”— a fusion of circus, dance, comedy and music —actually trace a number of things through the course of this explosively energetic show. They trace the audience members’ journey from the lobby to their seats projected on a big screen at the back of the stage, which elicits laughter as they see themselves entering the theatre. They trace the playful tossing of a basketball as it develops into an aggressive break dance. They use chalk to trace one another’s limp bodies on the floor as a ballpoint pen traces an entire city on the screen. They trace their lives in a slide show and through personal facts spoken ardently into a microphone that frequently descends from the ceiling. “I’m a romantic,” Francisco Cruise breathlessly tells the crowd. “I love cereal.  I especially love Cinnamon Toast Crunch.”

The personalization and character development are aspects of “Traces” that make it so endearing. The audience cares for the welfare of the acrobats/dancers because they distinguish themselves as individuals, playing instruments and plunking out different tunes on a wooden piano, from balletic standards to Chinese pop tunes on chop sticks. But they also work as one, seamlessly propelling and flipping themselves through the air.  This is done with the ease as props, such as wooden chairs and basketballs, are tossed through space.

It matters little that the show is strung together as an eclectic, chaotic circus. The audience is pulled immediately into the dramatic action through humor:  “Please take flash photography even if it permanently maims the performers,” is one pre-show announcement. That humor and energy keeps the audience uproariously supportive as the players display incredible agility, suspending one another with hand-to-hand circus techniques, leaping through hoops and climbing up and down vertical poles that reach from floor to ceiling.

 “Traces,” under the creative direction of the Montreal-based Seven Fingers Company, is a show not to be missed.