You know right away when a renowned circus troupe is in town, not because elephants have paraded down urban boulevards but because of the buzz it generates among all age groups. After all, a circus is for everyone, for “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…” However, the eight performers of the talented “Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus” from Montreal are far from all ages and nowhere is their youth more apparent–besides their high energy level and flexibility–than in their bios which say things like; “Began gymnastics age five…” “Discovered the circus at age eight…” or “From a young age of…” I mean, “from a young age” just wasn’t that long ago!
Their youthful hubris explodes the minute the troupe hits the stage with mind-blowing leaps and triple flips that they perform effortlessly, always landing on a dime in perfect unison. Yet, the vitality this troupe exudes isn’t the only thing unique about them but how “Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus,” has since its inception in 2002, continues to change the face of traditional circus into mesmerizing acrobatic arts, theater and dance. Their approach is casual—contemporary slap stick without makeup, juggling without juggling pins, clowning without red noses—still, their talent is that of mastery. This troupe is the creme de la creme in the evolving world of circus arts and even the understated production value of “Sequence 8” has an unfussy quality to it, which keeps it intimate and audience friendly.
“Sequence 8” is loosely based on transformation of an individual and their interaction and reaction to another, which can be two men (Ugo Dario and Maxim Laurin) catapulting each other high into triple flips off a teeterboard, or uber talented Alexandra Royer doing aerial somersaults off a Russian Plank while held up at each end by two others, or later, dangling seductively from a swinging aerial hoop. In another segment of this 90 minute exhilarating performance the troupe congregates vertically on a Chinese Pole or suspends perpendicular to it. When a blackout takes place before the lights instantly come back up, performers magically disappear and reappear to various parts of the stage with different props in new configurations of who is or who is not left on the pole.
Eric Bates not only fills up the stage with his towering presence but also with his uncanny skill as a juggler, juggling four blocks at a time, sometimes tossing them across the stage to others and back again. Devin Henderson dazzles with hoop diving at twice his height, missing the first two leaps on Thursday night when knocking the hoop over as he landed but redeeming himself by diving two more times from a running leap into unimaginable heights and successfully through it. Colin Davis in street clothes acts as a very chill deadpan Master of Ceremonies, again making something very succinct feel a bit nerdy and nonchalant. David is the son of San Francisco Mime Troupe founder R.G. Davis and carries on the tradition and close link of “Les 7 Doigts de la Main Circus” and the San Francisco Bay Area since one of their principle founders, Shana Carroll, originally from Berkeley, and three of its current members studied at the San Francisco School of Circus Arts.
“Sequence 8” is 90 minutes of joy, of continuous smiling, and eye popping delight. But, be forewarned it’s for children only–children of all ages.