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Traces (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Les 7 Doights de la Main is a company comprising seven individuals who combine their different artistic abilities to produce startling dance works.

Their latest production examines the traces, which dreams, visions and memories leave on our conscious lives. The theme sometimes feels a little forced making it the least successful part of an otherwise thrilling evening. This is particularly the case towards the climax that unrealistically suggests that the dance is being performed in the shadow of an imminent catastrophe threatening cast and audience. 

The five-strong cast are so convincing as friends that it is difficult to accept this dark concept. One would rather just see them work as a team than strain to pretend to be antagonists in a sequence that involves them performing amazing somersaults after being fired into the air via a see-saw. The dancers pushing and shoving each other to suggest a degree of enmity that really does not exist spoils the cartoon-like innocence of the sequence.

Traces provides the audience with a display of urban acrobatics, merging circus skills with contemporary dance and such unlikely elements as skateboarding and basketball.

The cast perform as an ensemble and also shine as individuals. Genevieve Morin gets so caught up in the book she is reading that her concentration forces her to twist and turn into a series of contortions in, on and under the comfy chair in which she sits. Along with the ensemble sequence of the cast twirling on skateboards whilst smiling like showroom models it is one of the most charming and funny parts of the evening.

In one of the few sequences in which the dream-concept really disturbs, Philip Rosenberg balances one-handed on a group of partially dismembered manikins swapping hands and striking a series of remarkable poses. By comparison it is almost relaxing to watch an exciting display from Antoine Carabinier-Lepine as he performs inside and around a wheel that he keeps in constant motion.

The stage set gives the impression of a tattered circus tent made up from used materials. Centre stage is a pair of Chinese poles that provide a thrilling climax to the first act. The cast use a variety of methods to mount the poles – somersaults, handstands, human pyramids – and scurry up and leap between them before, in a nerve shredding sequence, plunging headfirst towards the ground.

In-between the acrobatics the cast give insights about themselves and their dreams. These reflect the concept of the show and are amusing but it does feel like their main purpose is to give the cast a much-needed opportunity to catch their breath.

Traces  is a splendid show in which the enthusiasm of the cast is so infectious and their ability so obvious that you can’t help but wish they could abandon the rather strained concept and just perform .

- Dave Cunningham


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