by Katie, New York Guest Intern
“WOAH!” seemed to be the general reaction from the audience leaving the Union Square Theater on Thursday night. TRACES is the brainchild of 7 Fingers, a company “who, by combining their distinct talents and experiences, work towards their common artistic goals with the beautifully awkward dexterity of a 7-fingered hand.” TRACES combines circus elements with many other forms of artistic expression including dance, basketball, music, drawing, and skateboarding to name a few. The performers strip away the glitz and glam of the circus so that their tricks and stunts become part of their personalities. You begin to feel like you really know each person on stage. With every flip, you hold your breath hoping they make it back to the stage unscathed.
The show begins with the performers wearing blazers and performing a chaotic routine reminiscent of the morning commute in New York City. The agility and gracefulness of the performers is otherworldly (If only the real NYC commuters could dodge and weave each other with such ease). Immediately, you are transported to their world, where hoisting your friend above your head is as mundane a task as sending a text. Between riveting acrobatic routines, the performers share intimate details about themselves, creating a bond with the audience. These quiet moments perfectly complement the apprehension and anxiety caused by the daring stunts.
The beautiful duet between Mason Ames and Valerie Benoit-Charbonneau perfectly depicts the tension and longing of a tumultuous love affair. The ebb and flow of their movement is hypnotizing. Xia Zhengqi, small and nimble, acts as comedic relief and despite struggling during his juggling act, the audience remained on his side until the end. The talent of these performers is limitless. Mathieu Cloutier displays incredible strength along with partner, Bradley Henderson, then proceeds to sing a beautiful French song while accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. Philippe Normand-Jenny plays the piano beautifully and also acts as a human catapult.
The stunts are mind blowing. Just when you think they’ve pushed the limits of the human body, they push it even further. I found myself gasping and cowering in my seat in anticipation of the next out-of-this-world stunt. The finale sequence is a nail biter. The performers dive through rings that get higher and smaller until Xiu is flying through a ring seemingly the size of a dinner plate placed well above the heads of the audience.
The originality of this show is what makes it such an enthralling experience. Never before have you been able to see these incredible acrobatics in such an intimate space. The close proximity to the performers emphasizes the very real danger they are exposing themselves to. TRACES encourages you to live life without a safety net and to push the boundaries of your own imagination. You will leave the theater full of energy and awe, unable to comprehend the incredible feats you just witnessed. See this show and be inspired by the wondrous capabilities of the human body and mind.
TRACES is playing at the Union Square Theater in Manhattan. Want to see it on your next trip to NYC? Contact us at email@example.com or 212-302-4019 and we’ll help you plan your trip!