Shana Carroll is aware that, in the U.S. at least, the term “circus” is more often associated with clowns in undersized cars than world-class performing arts. But it was her term first, and she’s sticking by it for “Traces,” the latest offering from troupe 7 Fingers, of which she’s a founding member.
“There’s been a lot of people who have wanted us to change the name because it’s not what people expect when they think of a circus,” admits Carroll, the show’s director and choreographer. “But we think that the understanding of circus has evolved enough, and is still evolving. In Europe, there are many of these small troupes that mix theater and dance.”
Incorporating aerial acts, Chinese hoop acrobatics, parkour and an especially tricky-looking device known as the “Cyr wheel,” “Traces” is a high-energy, high-risk performance — something Carroll is all too familiar with after years in the air herself. “Sometimes I wish my daughter would have a chance to see me on the trapeze. But there’s a lot of fear involved, and it’s painful,” she says. “I was passionately in love with trapeze for many years; but at some point, I started thinking that I should spend more time on the ground.”