Monday, January 17, 2011

A High-Powered TRACES Leaves Its Mark at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre

Traces
The cast of Traces. Photos byMichael Meseke 2010

The Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Hollywood is home to a brand new kind of theatrical experience known as Traces, an exciting show by the Montreal-based circus group 7 Fingers. The troupe's name comes from a twist on a French idiom ("the five fingers of the hand") used to describe distinct, individual parts moving in coordination toward one common goal. Their “street take” on the traditional circus experience stretches the boundaries of the genre and creates a breathtakingly brash, decidedly urban show.

Traces

It begins with an explosion of sound and bodies as the handsome seven member cast races to the stage escaping an unknown catastrophe. Inside a make-shift shelter they live out what might be their last moments on earth in a series of scenes that startle and amaze. Like the chamber musicians who continued to play on deck of the sinking ship in Titanic, they demonstrate our human need for connection and our desire to leave our mark on those around us, especially once we realize that time is short.

The dazzling theatrical display of profound emotion is expressed through high-powered acrobatics, pulsating music, and inventive dance that shows the resilience and beauty of the human spirit. Mason Ames, Valérie Benoît-Charboneau, Mathieu Cloutier, Bradley Henderson, Philippe Normand-Jenny, Xia Zhengqi and Florian Zumkehr perform with reckless abandon, flying through hoops, tumbling from Chinese poles, and throwing themselves across the stage with a powerful energy that drives the show forward.

Traces

But Traces is not only a marvel of theatrics. The show also includes large doses of humor, like their happy-go-lucky version of “Paper Moon” on skateboards, and forges a personal connection between the performers and the audience as well. To accomplish that, the artists offer up personal bits of information – name, hometown, adjectives that describe themselves, and other fragmented stories and photos that become the heart of the piece.

We learn that Zumkher is not only a master at the handstand, but a romantic renaissance man who sings and plays guitar. Ames, may describe himself as clumsy, but performs a body-wrapping pas de deux with the lone flirtatious female, Charbonneau, that is sensual and exciting in its complexity, and Bradley Henderson, one of the two Americans, hails from nearby San Francisco.

Traces
Mason Ames and Valérie Benoît-Charboneau.
Much of what these artists do is interconnected but an equal amount of the show features them in solo sections that highlight their own unique specialties, among them, hand balancing, aerial rope work, Chinese and European style diabolo, the single wheel, and teeterboard. Believe me, it’s all pretty amazing.

Click Here to check out a preview of this one-of-kind heart pumping show.


Traces runs through February 20th at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in Hollywood. Tickets are available at www.broadwayla.org.

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