Lose yourself in the traces
I’ve always enjoyed the circus: the daredevil acrobatics, the sheer physicality of the human body, performers pushing themselves to their limits.
But as much as my inner child is enthralled by the performance, I can’t help but feel one step removed from the show. A sense of distance exists between the audience and the performers that says ‘here’s us and there’s you’. It’s as if we’re sharing differing worlds – not entering into the same one together.
This is the exact feeling that co-director Gypsy Snider sought to eradicate when creating the high risk acrobatic show Traces.
Created in 2002 in Montreal by a company called Les 7 doigts de la main (the 7 fingers of the hand), the aim was to bring the circus genre to a human scale.
“We wanted audiences to get to know the artists and have a direct human relationship with them, so when they do the crazy stuff, you feel like it could be you or your neighbour,” says Snider.
Set in a make-shift shelter, Traces follows five characters as they set to live out what they believe to be their final moments in the face of imminent catastrophe. Confronting this impeding disaster, they embark on a mission to leave their mark on the world, their ‘traces’, through music, songs, dance and hazardous acrobatics.
It’s this pressure of time and the idea that the performers’ lives are being threatened that creates an electric yet intimate atmosphere, says Snider.
“The concept means you have these amazingly powerful artists on stage giving it everything they have from a genuine place in their hearts as if it really is their last moment on Earth.”
While the show was constructed with a certain theme in mind, the choreography evolved from an improvisational process orchestrated by the performers themselves.
“This creates an authenticity in the artists’ movements, which is something audiences can feel even though the show was made six years ago,” says Snider.
While Snider believes the circus genre always has the capacity to impress, Traces exudes a human element that leaves audiences emotionally spent. This stems from the rollercoaster of emotions the artists evoke from their seemingly precarious acrobatics.
“It inspires and electrifies people and you get that feeling of ‘are they actually going to make it?’” say Snider.
For those who’ve experienced Traces, it’s well know that the unbridled energy of the performers leaves them feeling like it is a one-off - that the show was created especially for them for that exact night.
At the end of 2011, Traces had been presented over 1,200 times in nearly 20 countries. This, however, is their first time in Copenhagen where their show is being hotly anticipated.
Snider says she’s incredibly proud that, in spite of the simplicity of the show, it continues to be an incredibly touching experience.
“I like to think of it as like an explosive expression of humanity as if it really was about to be the end of the world.”
At the heart of the performance, Traces celebrates five individuals, their particular talents, their bond and their risk taking ventures.