TRACES directed and choreographed by Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider (Les 7 Doigts de la Main). At the Panasonic (651 Yonge). Opens tonight (Thursday, October 18) and runs to November 18. $35-$60. 416-872-1111. Rating: NNNNN
Most of us like it when art fits into neat little categories like modern dance performance, circus act or theatre. When something samples and mixes them together DJ-style, we may like the results, but we also find them hard to describe.
That's the case with Traces, the sophomore effort of the Montreal-based modern circus company Les 7 Doigts de la Main. The show weaves together the multidisciplinarily skills of five young, ultra-gifted urban acrobats.
It's modern dance meets circus acrobatics meets hiphop throwdown, with, oh, just a little basketball, break-dance, Chinese ring diving, mime and ballet thrown in.
"They had this really free-form way of doing things," says Shana Carroll, who taught the cast members at the illustrious Circus Center of San Francisco.
"Their street performance was like nothing we'd ever seen," says Carroll on the phone from Montreal, explaining why she and co-director/choreographer Gypsy Snider felt compelled to create a piece tailored to their particular energies and talents.
The premise of the show is simple. Stuck in an army barracks, five 20-somethings attempt to make a mark, or leave a trace, before the end of the world.
"We wanted to capture that youthful energy," says Carroll, "the feeling you have at that age that you can change the world."
Although Carroll is careful not to sound too lofty, she says that against this backdrop the performance pieces are about "embracing life in the face of destruction."
That sounds oddly appropriate, given the slew of challenges, environmental and otherwise, that Gen Y has inherited. Though Carroll doesn't pretend to have any grand ideas about how Traces can change the world, she is passionate about how a fresh approach can change our relationship to circus as an art form.
"When we formed Les 7 Doigts in 2002, we knew that we wanted our pieces to be intimate," says Carroll, explaining that this is the reason the performers talk amongst themselves and to the audience throughout.
While the result may defy categorization, the company's mandate is clear.
"When the audience knows something about the performers, they're more invested in the piece. We want to break down those traditional walls."