ArtsEmerson's 7 Fingers' "Reversible": elbisreveR

Hugo Ragetly in "Reversible"
(photo: Alexandre Galliez)

Once again under the ArtsEmerson umbrella, the Canadian troupe known as the 7 Fingers, fondly remembered for Cuisine and Confessions in the summer of 2016 is/are back, this time with a production entitled Reversible. This show, in its U.S. premiere, features eight virtuosic performers traveling through time and space in an effort to honor their forbears, demonstrating the poetry of the human form, linking the ending of each turn with the beginning of another in a display of continuity from one age to another. As is their practice, they utilize music, dance, theater, illusion and of course acrobatics, all dedicated to generations past on the theory that they might just have had the clue to a better tomorrow. The cast was first sent to check out their own genealogies, since today we are uprooted and not as connected to family history as were our ancestors. The initial spark was the idea of working with walls (not the international kind), since who we are on the inside is not the same as who we are on the outside. It became a very organic exercise, full of athleticism, grace and whimsy.

Directed, Written and Choreographed by Gypsy Snider, with Music Direction by Colin Gagne, this is one of the company's typical team efforts. This team, of eight players rather than seven (which actually refers to the seven founders of the company), consists of almost two dozen segments. It begins with a prelude, then a piece involving lost keys and some outstanding handstanding (Maria del Mar Ryes Saez), a fans and whips dance, hoop and window diving, hula hoops (Emi Vauthey) and hat juggling, German wheel performing (Julien Silliau), aerial silk feats (Emilie Silliau), juggling (Natasha Patterson), teeterboard (Jeremi Levesque and Vincent Jutras), and Chinese pole (Hugo Ragetly). All were superb in their timing and execution from the moment the show began until its stunning finale ninety minutes later. The creatives are equally impressive, from the Set and Props by Ana Cappelluto, to the Lighting by Yan Lee Chan, and Costumes by Genevieve Bouchard.

Julien Silliau in "Reversible"
(photo: Cimon Parent)

Founded in Montreal in 2002, the company's goal is to create, through cooperation as well as solidarity, and think outside the proverbial box, by innovating, surprising and teaching on a scale with the grandeur of human beings. They do this through the various means of dance, cinema, electronic media and visual arts. Through these means, they hope to convey new perspectives on the everyday, the extraordinary things that lie hidden within the ordinary, at the same time leading audiences to question their own perspectives of reality in life, while encouraging them to reflect on their own hopes. For the last decade and a half, they have created original productions, Broadway shows (like Traces and circus acts in Pippin), numerous artistic collaborations, Olympic Games ceremonies, and immersive performing experiences. As the “Seven Fingers of the hand” are distinct yet closely united, they move toward common goals that speak of our world and our time.

This was a very welcome escape from congressional hearings, hurricanes and hydrogen bombs. One could take comfort from the point of view the company itself proposes, namely that everything is reversible, including the past.

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