note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
Montreal’s amazingly, energetic Les 7 doigts de la main theatrical-acrobatic troupe make movement and dance appear fluid and effortless in the recent Boston premiere of their latest 90-minute, one-act show, “Sequence 8,” at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. When they last appeared here in their jaw-dropping production, “PSY,” theatergoers were overwhelmed by their superhuman feats.
The multi-award winning troupe, who co-produced this show with Les Nuits de Fourviere, Department du Rhone of Lyon, France, and TOHU of Montreal, wowed audiences again.
Directors Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila command an eight-member, fun-loving, charismatic, troupe whose individual skills vie with Cirque du Soleil performers and Olympic champions, but take it a step further.
Every stunt is unbelievable, artistically punctuated by Nol Van Genuchten’s lighting effects and Seth Stachowski’s stirring original music. As individuals leap across the stage, clamber up a streetlight pole with daring, strength, and the innate skills of a Samoan tree climber, then zoom down that pole, face first, without crashing, the stunned audience is hushed with admiration. One woman balances on a large, flexible board, walking uphill, leaping high in the air, with trampoline-type twists and somersaults. Another spins dizzily on a suspended hoop, while another performer literally jumps through hoops at varying distances and elevations, surrounded or supported by the troupe.
This youthful group’s collective movements are supposed to deliver a message about strength in unity and cooperation, exploring human relationships.
According to its press literature, “this acrobatic dance and theater piece contemplates the role of the ‘other,‘ and how we define ourselves through and against it.”
Let’s simplify that. Like the group’s name - Les 7 doigts (fingers) de la main (of the hand), two women and six men move together, supporting each other, to create gravity-defying, graceful, elastic movements with their limbs and torsos that appear physically impossible.
Although each performer is spotlighted in his/her own specialty, the troupe climbs over and under each other, walk on each other’s backs as stepping stones, move together gelatinously as a single unit or leap-frog across the stage, creating a uniform emotion or image.
Circus-trained performer Maxim Laurin, who with performing multidisciplinary partner, Ugo Dario, specialized in Korean board, add to this acrobatic harmony.
Eric Bates juggles large brick-style boxes so facilely, they look magnetized or stuck together with velcro. San Franciscan Colin Davis, who’s also a musician and high-level acrobat trained in Chinese acrobatics, and his work partner-fellow San Franciscan, Devin Henderson, move flawlessly.
Partners Tristan Nielsen and medal-winning gymnast Camille Legris excel in balletic hand-to-hand stunts. He awesomely supports her upright form in one hand, or swings her around like a lasso. And Moroccan-born equestrian Alexandra Royer, who trained in Russian bar and won medals in aerial hoop, adds elegance and grace.
They lighten the load with comedic gestures and facial expressions, while sweeping theatergoers into their act by running, climbing among them or demanding audience participation. No, they don’t expect theatergoers to leap onto a trapeze or balancing board, but to get noisy and have a helluva good time.