Saturday, December 30, 2006

From Montreal: Another Not-Called Circus: Traces

Out of the past: From December 30, 2006

Circus Review: Traces
San Francisco

Today’s younger "circus" performers want to be seen as hip and anything but circus performers. They are easily seduced into the rebirthing mills of Montreal. And out they come, de-spangled and de-programed, eager to prove how non-traditional they are while at the same time demonstrating circus skills in order to draw a crowd. Traces, which appeared in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre over the holiday, is a hard show to review for it does not want to be a show of any particular sort at all. It wants to hang out and do whatever it pleases. Its five engaging members -–– Heloise Bourgeois, Francisco Cruz, Raphael Cruz, Brad Henderson and Will Underwood ––- first seize the stage dancing a la West Side Story. Then they take turns speaking into a hanging mike, sharing trivial bits about their lives. Breakfast cereal preferences, height and weight, personal attitudes summed up in three humorously contradictory phrases. They roll aimlessly through dance acrobatics, glide winningly on skate boards, play pianos and guitars, scale the Chinese poles, jump through the Chinese hoops. Sparks of genuine creativity animate the proceedings here and there —— pointing intriguingly to new directions. Have we here a nouveau vaudeville show in the making? They are as agreeably unpretentious as those I found in a similar work —— Rain, directed by Circus Eloise’s Daniela Pasca, who himself takes a laid back approach to circus art, treating it more like a party than a performance. In fact, Rain has clearly influenced two of Trace’s creators, Gypsy Snider (daughter of Pickle Family Circus founders Larry and Peggy) and her partner Shana Carroll, who once performed for the Pickles. Less than 90 minutes running time without an intermission, Traces left me a little charmed and a little bored, and after an hour, looking at my watch and, in exit mode, not nearly eager enough to return next year to the same venue for whatever might show up. Still, Snider and Carroll are onto something that might develop more forcefully into -- who knows what. Experimentation can lead to exciting outcomes. The company of five include four who grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and were trained by Lu Yi at the city’s circus school, which traces its origins to the Pickle Family Circus. Go as much to ponder the future as to be entertained.

Rating: 2-1/2 stars


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