Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires
Regional Reviews by Fred Sokol
Also see Fred's review of Three Sisters
The concept was developed in 2002 and it features parts of: gymnastics, dance, circus, music, spoken words, and, by implication, theater. Utilizing poles, hoops, mattresses, basketballs and a skateboard, the continuous "pieces," performed for 90 minutes without intermission, are spirited and really a bit astonishing. The production includes at touch of cabaret, too, when "It's Only a Paper Moon" fills the stage and hall. Many a vignette tells a story, but the entirety of the production is without through-line or plot.
7 Fingers gives its very best at the outset. The pas de deux (a lovely, acrobatic ballet) enacted by brawny Antoine Auger and attractive Genevieve Morin, could not have been more romantic. Truly. Entangling above ground, via poles, or on the stage flooring, these two fuse strength with heat.
Sen Lin appears to be about as pliable as human bodily construction would allow. Francisco Cruz spends some time on guitar. Devin Henderson, performing circus artistry since the age of 5, is a masterful acrobat.
Props for the show are kept to a minimum. Projected images appear at the back of the stage. The audience is advised (before any actor begins climbing, gyrating, or spinning) to keep cell phones on, use the restroom when necessary, have a bite to eatwhatever seems comfortably suitable. The five participants are dressed mostly in white (upper body) and darker pants. Late in the show, Genevieve Morin dons a bright red dress for a stirring number. The garment and she swirl swiftly.
Some might appreciate a final sequence when hoop upon hoop challenges these athletes to literally fly through. This will work for those wishing to attend a gymnastics event. The competitive sport aspect, however, is not as astounding as are the moments when the entire hybrid 7 Finger genre blends muscularity with movement and feeling.
Defining the form this group embodies makes for lively conversation because the company, a performance stew of sorts, mixes elements and abilities. The troupe's value and level of talent are (forgive this) way up there. Aficionados could legitimately claim they've seen a fuller circus, complete with four-legged creatures and more. Traces is more intimate but not in a sappy sense. That it might take a few attempts to succeed at the impossibly difficult stunts works to humanize the event. For the collective sum of these people to triumph, long and intensive practice is obviously prerequisite. On imagines that integrating a new performer might require a while to establish timing.
As the performance evolves, those attending begin to feel a part of this artistic and emotional process. Again, that spell of sorts is unfortunately broken toward the conclusion when it seems the most trying thrusts-through-hoops drama heightens and we could be at an athletic meet.
Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider, two of the company founders, direct and choreograph the presentation at the Bushnell. Their skillful touch and understanding of the ethos are invaluable. Those athlete/artists who give everything each evening are fervently compelling.
Traces continues at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts through October 9th. For tickets, visit www.bushnell.org or call (860) 987-5900.
- Fred Sokol