Bodies in motion, ideas in flight: That’s the essence of Les 7 doigts de la main (the seven fingers of the hand), a Montreal-based contemporary circus troupe whose spellbinding new show, “Sequence 8,’’ has arrived at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, presented by ArtsEmerson.
Anyone who saw the company’s “PSY’’ in Boston last year knows how jaw-droppingly skilled its young performers are at torso-twisting routines that give physical expression to abstract or vague concepts.
In “Sequence 8,’’ directed by Shana Carroll and Sebastien Soldevila, the troupe also proves adept at self-spoofery.
The show pauses for a couple of interludes that poke fun at its own weighty, self-conscious premise. According to press materials, that premise has to do with “the role of the ‘other,’ and how we define ourselves through and against it.’’ To judge by the company’s website, the concept of “Sequence 8’’ is also guided by Carl Jung’s assertion that “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.’’
OK, whatever. All I know is it’s a hell of a show.
No matter how challenging the feat, the show’s eight performers — six men and two women — appear to be having a ball as they tumble, vault, hurtle, and mug for the audience.
It’s pretty infectious. There were a few errors on opening night, but the performers went right back at it and usually succeeded on the next try.
And the occasional miscue vanishes into insignificance compared to the individual and collective artistry that is on dazzling display, along with that mingled sense of camaraderie and can-you-top-this competition that adds spice to the mix.
There are acrobatic routines, aerial stunts, juggling, and a series of dance movements that are alternately sinuous and explosive, spontaneous-seeming and as stylized as a silent movie. On the rear wall of Anne-Seguin Poirer’s set are rectangular, circular, and square shapes that suggest empty picture frames. Seth Stachowski’s original music and the use of songs by the likes of Ben Harper and Squirrel Nut Zippers make the show an aural feast and a visual one.
Alexandra Royer is the first performer to astound in this 90-minute, intermissionless show, launching into a high-vaulting routine on a springy beam called a Russian bar.
Bouncing higher and higher, she begins to do somersaults while somehow managing to land on the narrow beam; then she does double somersaults, again making an unerring landing. Later, Royer entwines herself within an aerial bar and spins faster and faster until she is a virtual blur.
Ugo Dario and Colin Davis take turns leaping through hoops, feet first, no less.
Eric Bates juggles several cigar boxes at once, switching them from hand to hand at a speed and with a dexterity that barely seems possible. (His fondness for boxes leads to a visual gag later in the show.)
Maxim Laurin corkscrews and jackknifes his body on a trapeze, swinging over the rest of the troupe while they reach up for him.
There’s a yearning quality to that routine and others, but on balance “Sequence 8’’ is more festive than “PSY,’’ with more audience interaction by the performers. At one point on opening night, they even got the crowd to do the wave.
One arresting sequence makes it appear that the objects onstage have acquired magnetic properties; the performers are dragged helplessly back and forth across the stage.
You may find yourself equally powerless to resist “Sequence 8.’’
Les 7 doigts de la main is turning 10 this year. Happy anniversary, and here’s to many more.