By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Traces lets you marvel at the wonders of the human body while making you feel bad about your own. Seven gorgeous young performers in a 90-minute whirl of acrobatics, dance and borderline insanity fly off the floor and hang in mid-air longer than logic and the laws of gravity say they should. They leap, tumble, scuttle up poles and heave themselves at each other like flying squirrels. Balancing on skateboards, chairs, hoops and leather straps, they spin, cartwheel and contort in the most astonishing ways.
The national tour of Traces, winding up a two-week run at the Winspear Opera House, combines the intentional weirdness of Cirque du Soleil (whence some of these performers came) with the cantilevered gymnastics of Pilobolus and slouchy physical grace of Twyla Tharp. Directed and choreographed by Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider of 7 Fingers (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) Productions, this show is a blur of constant motion done to a throbbing soundtrack.
There is no storyline. A few words are spoken when the performers — Mason Ames, Valèrie Benoît-Charbonneau, Lucas Boutin, Mathieu Cloutier, Bradley Henderson, LJ Marles and Philippe Normande — stop bouncing off the walls to introduce themselves by name, hometown, height and weight. They stay onstage, toweling off sweaty hair and drinking water as they watch who's in the spotlight. Sometimes they draw chalk pictures on the floor or onto each other's shirts.
There's something unexpectedly intimate about the vibe among these performers. As if the Jets and Sharks suddenly stopped dancing out their gang fights and started friending each other on Facebook. While hanging upside down.