Thrilling stunts, lots of heart in ‘Traces’ 

Imagine five sexy young people dancing, swaggering, swinging, swaying and skateboarding. Oh, and tumbling, climbing poles, jumping through hoops, spinning in rings, and doing handstands — on each other’s heads. That’s what goes on in "Traces," a perfectly thrilling, high concept theatrical event onstage at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. The holiday show, great for families, is presented by Circus Center, home of Pickle Circus.

The performers in "Traces" are members of a Montreal-based troupe called Les 7 doigts de la main, or "seven fingers of the hand." The phrase is meant to denote a particular agility, and these kids are certainly that. Being gorgeous doesn’t hurt matters, either.

The young players make death-defying stunts look easy, and they’re breathtaking. But what’s as intriguing as the tricks is the individual spirit that sets the tone of the show. In fact, the first things that happen are performer introductions, along with vital statistics, and a brief listing of likes and dislikes. There’s not much glitz, but tons of heart.

We meet the petite French Heloise, look-alike brothers Francisco and Raphael, pony-tailed Brad and chiseled Will. So far, it’s unlike any other "circus" act out there.

The appealing intimacy continues throughout the brisk 90-minute performance. The kids talk, toss a basketball around, play instruments and muse.

Structured almost like a variety show, and created under direction of a team of 7 Fingers artists including Pickle Circus alumni Shana Carroll and Gypsy Snider, the "Traces" vignettes range from an often acrobatic dance between Heloise and Will — at one point she literally does a handstand on his head — to a heart-stopping routine in which all five athletes take turns climbing two parallel poles. They ascend in an upside down fashion, and even sideways. It’s mind-blowing.

On a slightly more calm note, Heloise reads a book on an easy chair; then the five reappear for a sprightly dance on skateboards to the tune of "It’s Only a Paper Moon."

Brad’s biggest moments in the show are in "the cyr wheel" in which he spins around and around inside a ring that looks like a big metal hula hoop.

Raphael and Francisco have a sibling balancing act in which they show strength and agility, and how they’re different from each other, followed by Heloise in a stunning red dress flying with the aid of aerial straps.

A slight false note comes in the form of a game show takeoff that seems out of place, but the performance ends with an exhilarating "final countdown" of Chinese hoop-diving. Don’t miss it!

Info

Traces ****

Presented by 7 Fingers

When: Daily Wednesday through Jan. 1, except no show Dec. 25

Where: Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon St., San Francisco

Tickets: $15 to $45

Contact: (415) 392-4400 or www.cityboxoffice.com

About The Author

Leslie Katz

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