Traces at AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Winspear Opera House
The AT&T Performing Arts Center’s 2012-2013 Lexus Broadway Series ends on a high note with the US National Tour of Traces now playing at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Texas. Opening night for this limited run was spectacular and well-attended. It was also peppered with applause throughout and received a spontaneous standing ovation at the end.
What a show!
Traces: Jackie Chan meets Stomp
You know how Jackie Chan performs crazy gymnastic stunts in real-life settings, and how Stomp performs intricate percussion pieces with ordinary objects, like buckets and brooms? Toss these concepts in a blender for 90 minutes and you might end up with something a bit like Traces.
Circus Stripped of Glitz & Glamour
Even though the members of the troupe have studied the circus arts, this is not your mama’s big top. For one thing, the costumes they wear are items most of us can find in our own closet: T-shirts, exercise pants, a casual brown blazer – nothing fancy. There is not a sequin or feather to be found.
Gone, too, are hyperbolic stage names. Instead of referring to themselves as stuff like, ‘”the Amazing Shazbar,” the cast simply introduces themselves by their actual names. They also tell us their height and weight along with three adjectives to describe their personalities. (One of them even describes himself as, “clumsy,” although I could only ever wish to be that “clumsy” in my own life!) No wigs, masks or pancake make-up, either. If you ran into a cast member walking down the street, you could easily recognize them.
Stripping away all the traditional circus glitz and glamour makes Traces feel like a street performance that snuck onto stage. It also increases viewer tension when the cast performs a dangerous feat. Since I knew their names and a little bit about their lives (they even shared a few baby photos) I found myself rooting for the performers in a more personal way, and fretting more than usual about their lack of a safety net.
Street Performance Hits the Stage
Don’t mistake their casual dress for a lack of professionalism; the Traces crew is tight. The performance was flawless. Well, OK, there was one leap through the Chinese hoops that went awry. But they re-did it and was the audience ever pleased!
Who would have thought basketballs and skateboards could be used to create such fabulous performance art? One segment involves the Traces crew dancing to “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” as though performing a traditional soft shoe with tuxedo and a cane, but instead of a cane, they twirled skateboards.
In another section, the cast performs a creatively choreographed routine while seated in plain old stacking chairs. I was reminded, once again, of Jackie Chan during this bit, because I laughed out loud several times due to the physical wittiness of their performance.
Family Friendly Entertainment
Although you may have to warn your kids not to try these stunts at home, seeing Traces might also inspire youngsters to take up gymnastics. It certainly demonstrates that you don’t need fancy costumes or expensive gizmos to create quality entertainment.
I must say, Traces is truly a feel-good show. Full disclosure here: I was uber stressed the day I saw Traces perform. (Check my Facebook page if you don’t believe me. I was ready to jump out of my skin!) So, although super edgy when I walked into the Winspear Opera House, when I walked out I had a big grin on my face and felt renewed and happy.
That’s my review, folks. Grab your tickets while you can. Traces is a wonderful show!
For More Information:
What: US National Tour of Traces
When: June 11 through June 23, 2013
Where: 2403 Flora Street, Dallas, TX 75201
Price: Tickets start at $25. Check availability and book online at the AT&T Performing Art Center official website.
Runtime:Approximately 90 minutes with no intermission.
NOTE: While tickets were provided for review purposes, the opinions expressed in this article are wholly my own.
Photo credits: All photos provided courtesy of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and copyright Michael Meseke