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Edição nº 15
  Edition nº 16

Interview

The circus reinventores

Identified as the urban circus creator, Canadian company combines techniques of Chinese acrobatics, street art, music and intimate dance presentations and full of originality

Rose Campos

 In an imaginary time, humanity is on the brink of chaos. Locked in a bunker, five people living their last moments on earth. In an attempt to save or at least leave a trace of their existence in the world, they express their feelings in different way, resulting in the perfect blend of music, dance, acrobatics, circus arts and sports centers, such as basketball and skateboarding. Traces is one of the four creations of the successful Canadian Troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main, also known as 7 Fingers. If not the best, the most celebrated. Proof of this, there are about 500 presentations held in 13 countries. Founded in 2002, in Montreal in the province of Quebec, the company has not just this similarity to the legendary Cirque du Soleil. With the ideal of uniting different personalities, talents and experience, its seven founders - the 7 Fingers, a description of people with extreme skill - left the stage of the renowned circus in search of a single goal: to innovate in costumes and scenery outside the patterns the usual gender. And, by the way, the goal was reached. Singled out the urban circus concept creators, they now remain in the curriculum, a multitude of positive criticism and acclaimed shows in the world major festivals. In Traces, the directors of Les 7 Doigts de la Main resolved to sell its stage space to show the versatility of five young persons - the brothers Francisco and Raphael Cruz, Brad Henderson, Will Underwood and Heloise Bourgeois, the only girl in the group. Childhood friends and basketball and skating companions, the boys learned the techniques of Chinese acrobatics with Master Lu Yi - Nanjing Acrobatic Troupe director - Circus Center in San Francisco. Heloise, in turn, has a 15 year formation in riding and 10 years in trampoline, in addition to classical ballet and interpretation. The sum of these abilities could be seen recently in Brazil, on tour in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre. At the time, Brad Henderson and Will Underwood, in an interview for the magazine Brazil-Canada, spoke about the experience of integrating the 7 Fingers, the success of Traces and the impressions that they had during its first presentation in national territory.

Brazil-Canada - In addition to the versatility in stage, another fact that draws attention in Traces is the age of its members (between 23 and 26 years). How did your interest in art circus arise?
Will Underwood - When I started to practice at age of 7 at the Circus Center San Francisco, USA. The circus is therefore a childhood passion. At 18 years, I moved to Montreal and came to attend the National Circus School. After years of dedication, Traces became my first professional show. Now we are in a world tour, which according to a research, should last another three years.
Brad Henderson - I started to train early, with about 8 years old, but joined the circus only when I was 10 years old. During the time that I remained in the Circus Center San Francisco, I identified myself with the techniques of Chinese acrobatics taught by Master Lu Yi. It was a fun time and I made several friends.

BC - Why did you decided to change United States for Canada?
WU - Coincidentally, I met some members of Les 7 Doigts de la Main at the time when I was preparing a submission year-end to the Circus Center San Francisco. They helped us develop the show. After that, it was suggested that we went to Montreal, so we could become professional in the National Circus School. It was irrefutably proposal, which resulted in a great experience.

BC - Traces is considered Les 7 Doigts de la Main most innovative show. In which it differs from other company presentations?
WU - I think the show is a reflection of our personalities and in this sense, we reveal stages in the sentiments and interests of young people. For this, we use streets language, represented, for example, by basketball and skating. Also adding to this, we submit some personal talents such as in the piano and the guitar. All this based on the essence of Les 7 Doigts de la Main, which does not present the characters, the costumes and scenery of traditional circus and, as well as the Cirque du Soleil has no animals. The result is a natural show. We portray our reality and thus create proximity to the public.

BC - The 7 Fingers appeared in 2002 and has conquered the world with its art. What circus companies influenced the development of this work?
WU - The 7 Fingers founders came from Cirque du Soleil. Therefore, it is impossible to ignore the company's strong influence on their shows. However, the presentations are smaller and intimate. They use the techniques of acrobatics, dance and music, without forgetting the important aspects of traditional circus. The 7 Fingers is therefore a result of all this mixing, but without the pretense of being another Cirque du Soleil. The goal is to always do something new, different.

BC – In which of the show moments the traditional circus art is present?
WU – Virtually, every moment. The circus is the traditional inspiration source for the company presentations.
From the basic techniques of art, adding more components of our daily lives and Les 7 Doigts de la Main. This causes the work to be so original.

BC - The work performed by Les 7 Doigts de la Main - defined as new circus - can be considered a Canadian circus trend?
WU - I believe so. In Montreal, particularly, there are always new companies seeking to add music and dance elements of circus. However, the spread of Traces in relation to the others is its originality. The design and method of 7 Fingers work is very different from the other troupes made by Canadians. But, of course, there is a new style of circus
setting in the country.

BH - This new concept is now part of the proposal of many Canadian companies. He won space by adding the challenges of traditional circus to a new way of approaching, making it possible to expand the existing techniques. It is important to emphasize that this practice involves risks and therefore requires much skill of the artists. This causes the original choreography to win. People are happy to monitor the outcome.

BC - What kind of support do companies receive from the Canadian circus?
BH - I do not have much information about the reality of the other Canadian provinces, but I can say that the Quebec government offers an excellent support to companies circus, which contribute to region to be known as a reference on the subject. As a result, we have the Circus National School, the global impact of Cirque du Soleil and also the emergence of a new generation of circus, with the presence of Les 7 Doigts de la Main.

BC - From this fact, it is possible to consider the circus part of Canada cultural history. With this, which is the receptivity of the Canadian public?
WU - especially in Quebec - which offers support for the circus and artists -, we noticed a great interest of the public by this news and also other forms of artistic expression. The Canadian audience is diverse, made up of families, youth, adults and children.

BC - From your stage experience, what do you think about the receptivity of the Brazilian audience?
BH - It is really very good. People remain attentive, surprised with the stunts, laugh and applaud a lot. I noticed that we really excite them with the show.

BC - What was your first impressions of Brazil?
WU - Sao Paulo, for example, is a great city, and Porto Alegre. Not counting the Rio de Janeiro coast beaches that are fascinating. The Brazilians are very pleasant, and I made good friends during our passage through the country.
BH - I know a little about the country, but I can say that I loved everything I saw. People are receptive and sympathetic. I would love to have more time to learn about Brazil.

BC - Is there any aspect of Brazilian culture that can influence your future work?
BH - We heard a lot of samba during our passage through the country, and I confess that I liked a lot the pace. The techniques of poultry are also interesting. But the time that we remained in Brazil was not enough to fully know its culture. It will be very good to go back soon. Who knows, if go there again, we will be able to adapt some of its cultural aspects to our shows.

"We do not pretend to be a new Cirque du Soleil. Our goal is to always do something new”
Will Underwood


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