(miriammoules has already posted a review, but I've yet to read it - something else to catch up on)
For those that don't know about it, here's the theatre's blurb:
Combining awe-inspiring circus training with infectious urban energy, four men and one woman give dazzling, gravity defying displays of skill, balancing casually on each other's heads, or tumbling through hoops and leaping spectacularly up giant poles without using their hands.
But Traces is more than just a display of acrobatic brilliance, as snippets of the performers' real lives are revealed through film clips, narration and music. We are gradually drawn into their story, and by the final, dramatic climax of the show, the audience is on the edge of their seats, willing them to pull off the seemingly impossible.
Set to a fantastic soundtrack ranging from rock 'n'roll to blues to hip hop, this is a thrill-a-minute show that will leave you begging for more.
They're not lying about the range of music, it covered a huge range of genres. One minute their opening the show with progressive metal, the next thing you know they're playing Debussy on the Piano and it went on to include, rock 'n' rool, hip hop, trance, blues and all manor of other styles with the style of dance and the dramatism of the moves varying according to the musical styles.
I've got some of the music they used on CD (including what they used opening dance/played as we left the theatre) - must resist the urge to jump around the living room next time I put it on.
One of the main things I was impressed with was the way the whole show, just flowed. There were very few points where there was a clear break between one dance and another.
Also, being very circus skills based, there were a lot of props needed for some of the dances and the introduction/removal of these had been clearly carefully planned into the show. Some of them such as the removal of the piano in the first half or the introduction of the rings at the end were very much emphasised, while some were much more subtle. There was one point in the show where they needed to bring on a large metal hoop, which one of the dancers later span around in.
While one of the dancers went to get this hoop and rolled it on, the others carried on with another part of the dance. Although rolling a large metal hoop on stage, is a fairly obvious thing to do, it was clearly secondary to the other actions going on. Once it was on stage, the dancer who had gone to get it joined in with the others and they all completely ignored the hoop, leaving you in suspense about what they were going to do with it and when.
They also brilliant integrated quite a large amount of slapstick into the routines. This was especially true in the opening of the second half where you saw one of the dancers falling around in an armchair (which had obviously been specially adapted to roll around easily), whilst reading a book.
Although the acrobatics were very impressive, it was the way they integrated them together and the reactions of the other dancers which really seemed to make the show and put the final polish on the movements. There were some brilliant examples of this in the final dance when they were jumping through the rings. For example, at one stage one of the dances jumped backwards through the ring to be caught by one of the other dancers. In itself fairly impressive, but they emphasised the whole movement by positioning the other 3 dancers near the catcher and then all 5 dancers dropped back together as the jumper landed and got back up together. It must have taken an amazing amount of practice to get the timing of that, and yet they all did it as one.
However, I think the thing that was really the highlight of the show for me, was a little earlier in the part with the rings at the end. All 5 dancers were sitting on seats at the back of the stage and the one at the right hand end got up and did his jump through the rings, as he landed the other 4 all pieroetted one seat to the right to make room for him at the other end.
Given what I've now seen possible given professional acrobatics in dance, I'd love to see what a group like this would do with a rapper dance. There must be so much that could be done beyond the standard tumbles, etc.
I find myself wanting 5 acrobats and a set of swords to play with...
If you've not seen Traces already, it's currently showing at the Peacock Theatre, Holborn until 14 March 2009.