The names of the company and the show tell you nothing, but 7 Fingers' Sequence 8 is fantastic, one of the most memorable Live Arts/Fringe performances I've seen over the years.
The show, which had its U.S. premiere Tuesday night at the Merriam Theater, seamlessly blends circus arts with modern dance and hip-hop in a family-friendly array of acrobatic feats reminiscent of Olympic gymnastics. All eight performers are clowns at times, but no one is creepy or annoying.
Set to music ranging from Tosca to the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Sequence 8 includes group dance sections with a heavy dose of aerial acrobatics; a Russian bar routine that's a cross between trampoline and balance beam; and performers who defy gravity juggling cigar boxes, on a trapeze, or by dashing up a Chinese pole.
What makes 7 Fingers - which hails from Montreal like the better known Cirque du Soleil and appeared in last year's Live Arts Festival with Traces - extra special is the intimacy and humanity of their show. The Merriam Theater is hardly a small space, but compared with a circus ring, it brings the audience closer and magnifies the details.
The simple costumes (mostly dance- and workout wear) and small mistakes only made the performance more believable and, therefore, more amazing. If a performer drops the boxes he is juggling or needs a second turn doing a somersault through a hoop because he knocked it down the first time (both happened Tuesday night), he seems more like a person with extraordinary talent than a freak of nature.
The house was packed Tuesday, but the show runs through Sunday. See it if you can.
Sequence 8 Through Sunday at the Merriam Theater. Tickets: $20-$55. Information: 215-413-1318 or www.livearts-fringe.org