Make us your home page

Review: 'Traces' brings circus to a human scale

TAMPA — Seven Fingers, the Montreal-based troupe behind Traces, has as its goal to bring circus to a "human scale."

And that they have done. In Traces, which opened Tuesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, the company members dress in grayish more-or-less street clothes, instead of the garish spangled tights of the circus or the mystical disguises of Cirque du Soleil. They introduce themselves to the audience by name and they provide their birthdates and a few personality traits.

But a little more spectacle and little less humanity might actually have helped. Traces has a lot of stunning acrobatics and graceful, whimsical modern dance, but it also has an awful lot of long dry stretches, filled with moves you've seen many times before. And its set and costumes are visually tedious.

As in Cirque du Soleil shows, Traces has a plot line that audiences probably won't care about, or even discern unless they do research. In this case, it has something to do with seven people trapped inside a bunker while some kind of apocalypse is happening outside. The set is the color of ashes, and the performers wear charcoal business suits and white shirts.

The 90-minute show is episodic. An early dance piece, very pretty and punctuated by gasp-inducing acrobatic moments, is followed by an interminable segment in which the cast members toss around a basketball for no apparent reason. There's an astounding passage in which the cast performs gorgeous, daring and seemingly superhuman moves on poles, high above the stage, and an incongruous passage in which one cast member strums a guitar and sings a love song that isn't very good. That's actually the only weak music in the entire show, though. Several cast members play credibly, and the recorded backing tracks, mostly with pop and electronica flavoring, sound great and serve as excellent complements to the physical performances.

Perhaps the most thoroughly entertaining bit is a pure dance piece in which Valerie Benoit-Charbonneau — the only woman in the seven-person cast — dances in, on, under and with a recliner chair, remaining engrossed in the book she's reading the entire time.

Benoit-Charbonneau's expressiveness as a dancer — she even draws laughs with her toes — is evident in a couple of pieces. But the entire cast is her equal, performing flawless and consistently physical and graceful work in both dance and acrobatic segments.

The scattered technical glitches during Tuesday's performance are certainly forgivable. The dreadfully uninteresting sets and costumes (there are only a couple of splashes of color in the entire show) and the long passages of unimaginative work are harder to ignore.

Overall, Traces succeeds in entertaining, astounding and amusing. But its best moments, including some beautiful acrobatics and a very funny curtain speech that opens the show, promise a bit more.


The show runs through Sunday at the Straz Center's Morsani Hall. About 95 minutes. Shows are 7:30 p.m. tonight, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $31.50. (813) 229-7827;

Review: 'Traces' brings circus to a human scale 01/30/13 [Last modified: Thursday, January 31, 2013 7:52am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Cridlin: Linkin Park's Chester Bennington had a wail that stood apart

    Music & Concerts

    For all the old-timers' talk about how they don't make singers like they used to, about how rock vocalists of the 21st century can't hold a candle to the frontmen of yesteryear, here's a fact no hater could deny:

    Chester Bennington could flat-out wail.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park  performs at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the 2014 Carnivores Tour. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Ready to go it alone? Tips for easing into solo travel


    Since 2012, Kristin Addis has been traveling the world. More often than not, she's solo.

    Travel author Kristin Addis takes soloness to another level at Dead Horse State Park in Utah. Before you book an international trip, try starting small to test the waters.
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 21


    Taking Back Sunday: The emo heroes will be joined by Every Time I Die and Modern Chemistry. 6:30 p.m., Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. $26.50. (727) 565-0550. Afterward, guitarist and co-lead vocalist John Nolan performs a DJ set at 10 p.m., The Bends, 919 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Free.

    Taking Back Sunday, performing in St. Petersburg this weekend. Credit: Reybee, Inc.
  4. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 16: An evening of wine and song transcends all language barriers for these travelers


    Day 16: Castrojeriz to Villarmentero de Campos: 35 km, 10.5 hours. Total for Days 1-16 = 360 km (224 miles)

  5. Artist exchange creates Tampa-Havana friendships

    Visual Arts

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Bad weather rocked the Southwest Airlines flight from Havana to Tampa.

    Marian Valdes of Havana, Cuba, who is a resident artist through the Tempus Projects artist exchange program, stands for a portrait at the non-profit art space in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 17, 2017. Valdes has an upcoming exhibit titled “Addicted Involution.”