Traces is a superb display of humanity and physicality.
Contemporary circus always runs the risk of placing style over substance, of being all spectacle and no thought. The endearing charm of Traces is in how it circumvents these traps. The performers tell us their names, personal facts about their lives, their likes and dislikes. They aren’t circus freaks and nor are they robotic trapeze twirling superhumans. They are people: they laugh, joke and congratulate each other between sequences, they ensure that Traces remains a refreshingly human circus experience.
Of course, all the typical acrobatic stunts are still displayed here: trapeze, cyr wheel and Chinese hoops are performed with huge skill and physical prowess. Yet the magic of the show is that it knows when to give us time to breathe out. There are moments of warm humour amongst the apparatus, slapstick joking and brilliantly intricate ensemble movement sequences that blur the boundaries between circus, dance and (very) physical theatre. More atypical sequences also feature – wooden chairs, skateboards and a basketball demonstrate the potential of the everyday to astonish, if approached with an acrobatic imagination.
Perhaps disappointingly there’s no real narrative here: fundamentally Traces is a succession of set pieces that merely differ in tone and scope. In that respect, it isn’t a perfect show and no deeper reactions are elicited than warmth and amazement. Sometimes though, that is all it needs. Traces is a superb display of humanity and physicality. Dazzling and prototypical, the seven fingers could well be performing for a further ten years to come.