Thursday, 8 May 2014

Review | SÉQUENCE 8 (IDFB) May 2014

Groundbreaking Montreal circus company Les 7 Doigots de la Main (The 7 Fingers), present Séquence 8 as part of International Dance Festival Birmingham at The REP. Created in 2012 by the company who directed the first segment of the Sochi Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, the piece is billed as an exhilarating race through the furthest reaches of acrobatics, circus arts, dance and theatre... and it is!

From the moment it begins you'd be forgiven for thinking someone had turned the gravity off... if it wasn't for the fact you're still firmly in your seat, you might believe it. The ensemble leap into the space after an introduction from Colin Davis - it's all very aspirant and begins almost like a University  showcase... you know those assessments which are awfully experimental and nonsensical? But it's purposely playful and soon develops into a solid 90-minute piece that explores relationships and how we define ourselves through and against the idea of the 'other'.

Alexandra Royer impresses early on in a heart-stopping routine on the Russian Bar. The bar, resting only on the shoulders of two other performers, wobbles, bends and hurls her into the air - landing perfectly every time, of course. Maxim Laurin shows extreme strength as an aerialist hanging from his ankles on a trapeze... it's a theatrical circus, a re-imagined and contemporary home for the age-old skills. 

Eric Bates is good at the harmonica, chess, cooking, break-dance, skateboarding, but here we see  perhaps his most impressive avocation... his specialty of cigar-box juggling - for which he is considered one of the best in the world. It's mesmerising and I'd still believe those boxes were magnetic... 

Alexandra Royer is expert at the aerial hoop and whirls around the stage, almost as if running through thin air, it's most beautiful yet almost unbelievable. That's the case with pretty much all of this show, boundaries are pushed until just about the limit with fascinating results. 

Just as Physical Theatre is often acting through dance, this is acting through circus and acrobatics... It 's delightfully fresh and manages to guide us through a narrative, trick after trick. There is much enjoyment from seeing a story come together through what at first seem unconnected displays of circus performance. There are no clowns here, just serious fun. 

You can see Séquence 8 at Birmingham REP as part of International Dance Festival Birmingham until Sat 10 May. Book tickets here

Watch a preview here:

Cast List: Eric Bates, Ugo Dario, Colin Davis, Devin Henderson, Alexndra Royer, Maxim Laurin, Camille Legris, Tristan Nielsen. 

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