The 7 Fingers have returned once again to Toronto, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Pioneers in the contemporary circus movement, the company now based in Montreal travels the world and shows us the truth and honesty of how wonderful and how difficult circus really is. No doubt it is an amazing spectacle to see some of the larger troupes perform their perfect, glittering, stadium shows, but they are nothing compared to the true magic of the circus, demonstrated by the eight artists in “Reversible”. In a theatre so small we can hear their breath and see their faces, the artists onstage showed us their souls. In a show built around the idea of walls, both physical and internal, we are afforded a glimpse into the lives of these eight strangers. With a wonderful creative process wherein the performers researched their own histories, “Reversible” charms with its vulnerability and unique composition. So often circus shows can seem only comprised of a string of individual acts, but this show is so much more. With a clear through-line and movement vocabulary, the performance exists as a whole, not a sum of its parts. The artistry and creativity of each member of the team shines through, and gave the audience a night of pure joy.
One of the things I love most about The 7 Fingers is the ensemble nature of the company. Inevitably though, some individuals shine through. For me, the artists that stole the show in this performance are married couple on-and-off-stage, Émilie and Julien Silliau. In a stunning act of cracking whips and flashing fans, they grabbed my attention from the beginning, and performed with a high level of intensity and intimacy. Another noteworthy performance is Emi Vauthey on aerial silks. Perhaps the most common aerial apparatus, it is often difficult to keep acts feeling fresh. Her opening series on the silks made my jaw drop, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. She is dynamic and engaging, daring and playful. She sets up for drops or rolls with such subtlety that even a seasoned audience such as ours was surprised and gasped at her drop to ankle-hang.
Lastly, the group act on Chinese Pole is perhaps one of the most singularly engaging pieces of circus I have ever seen live. Not only are all eight artists skilled in the apparatus, the choreography is stunning. I marveled as the cast moves seamlessly from unison to duets or solos, and use the pole in such a creative way. They make use of each other’s bodies to assist in their climbs, and they create gorgeous sculptural shapes in the air, all suspended at once. The pole-duo is especially stunning, cinematic even. If you can make your way to this show, be ready for the gift of performance in this piece.
Overall, another successfully mind-bending show from The 7 Fingers, which has officially become the high standard they continuously work in. The only shortcoming in this performance is a lack of including the audience in the creative process. There are so many wonderful stories unearthed by each artist in their ancestral research, and not all of that comes through in the characters they play onstage. However, there is no lessening of the triumph of the show because of this. The 7 Fingers is truly a gem in our colonial crown, and I truly hope that they can continue bringing their gift to every part of our country. I thank them for their efforts, skill, and desire to share their souls with us.