They enter wearing suits. Les 7 Doigts de la Main’s seven performers look dressed for work, all trousers and jackets and incongruous bare feet. Traces, though, is more playground than office. It’s circus meets dance meets theatre, all with a mischievous grin on its face.
Traces is pure jaw-to-the-floor stuff, eliciting involuntary “oohs”, “ahhs” and under-the-breath exclamations of “how the fuck did they do that?” "Explosive" barely does justice to the opening number, which crashes onto the stage with pulse-quickening intensity. From there, the energy rarely lets up for the next hour. Performers scale poles, somersault through unfeasibly high hoops, and hurl themselves across the stage with abandon and grace. It’s somehow effortless and effortful all at once.
But it’s everything around the backflips and aerial gymnastics that sets Traces apart, as daring, virtuosic feats are interspersed with moments of frailty and silliness. The gang laugh, goof around, give up fragments of their personality for the microphone. Superhuman stunts melt into intimately human performances. These superior beings are even allowed to fail, occasionally, before robbing us of our breath all over again.
Traces is nearly a decade old now, having travelled the world and gone through multiple performers. Visiting it for the first time, though, it shows few signs of age or weariness. Perhaps thanks to its focus on the here and now—on the ephemeral and its remnants—it manages to create itself anew for each performance, staying always in the thrilling present moment.