During a wine-fueled evening back in 2002, seven graduates of the National Circus School in Montreal sat around a coffee table, outlining an ambitious plan to form a new company that would strip their circus training down to a minimalist vessel for physical storytelling, the likes of which the city had never seen. They settled on a quirky name: Les Sept Doigt de la Main — or “The Seven Fingers of the Hand” in English — each one representing a distinctive and invaluable element that together would build a collective greater than the sum of its parts. Seventeen years later, 7 Fingers (as they’ve come to be known) has proved that in folds, premiering more than two dozen “creations” in cities from Russia to the United States.
At the center of the 7 Fingers vision is a cooperative desire to pass the creative baton around to each of its six artistic directors (seventh member Nassib El-Husseini is the financial wizard behind the company), allowing them creative license to undertake distinctive projects that range in themes (the street-savvy overtones of Traces ignited the company’s international buzz) and formats (Queen of the Night’s dinner theater production sold out almost every night during its two-year run.)
Last fall, the company unveiled a dazzling 60,000-square-foot Creation Center in the heart of Montreal to serve as the nucleus for the development of their wildly diverse undertakings. The first production to emerge from their new environs is Réversible, an intimate portrayal of connection and ancestral roots told through the real-life experiences of each of its eight performers. Blending acrobatics, dance, and ground and aerial acts, the artists travel in and out of portals of time and space (represented by a sophisticated moving set of doors and windows) to unlock the secrets of their pasts, shedding light on the memories that continue to haunt them in their present day.
With a tapestry of captivating skills (expect hand-balancing juxtaposed with aerial choreography) and multifaceted artists that glide fluidly between their roles as actors, dancers, and acrobats, Réversible defies categorization and proves once again that 7 Fingers is at the forefront of a growing movement toward multidisciplinary performance.
7 Fingers performs Thursday, February 7, 7 p.m., at the Granada Theatre (1214 State St.). Call 893-3535 or see artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.