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Les 7 Doigts' Cuisine & Confessions delectable on all levels

by Judith Fein
February 22, 2017
Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 W San Francisco Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 988-1234
Judith Fein is a Santa Fe-based travel writer, author, and speaker. Her website is www.GlobalAdventure.us
At the end of Les 7 Doigts' performance of Cuisine & Confessions (2014) on February 21, ushers at Santa Fe's Lensic Performing Arts Center whispered to each other, “This is the best show I have ever seen….ever….” and an audience member wiped tears from her eyes and said, “So many of those boys had no fathers. I feel so much for them.” Other ticket holders munched on pasta and banana bread made by the performers.

You’re probably wondering what kind of show this is, and the answer is: it’s another blockbuster event staged by the acclaimed Montreal company, Les 7 Doigts de la Main (7 Fingers in English). Written, directed, and choreographed by Shana Carroll (co-founding artistic director of the troupe) and Sebastien Soldevila, the production, presented by Performance Santa Fe, swept you up from the first audience-warming invitation to crack an egg with one hand, and deposited you, agape, in front of a plate of freshly-made pasta. And in between were the genre-busting human pyrotechnics of circus, Acro dance (a seamless blend of precision acrobatics and classical dance), daunting Chinese pole work, banquine and Icarus porters and flyers. Additionally there were floor acrobatics, aerial silk, gymnastics, vaudevillian comedy routines, contortion, live music, recorded music, singing, recipes, and….autobiographical stories from the performers’ pasts. And all of this was going on while the performers physically cooked, baked and then served the audience at the end of the 90-minute, breathtaking run, which took place inside a stage kitchen.

The nine performers, from the U.S., Argentina, France, Russia, and Sweden, performed in stretchy street clothes, and their personal confessions allowed the audience to “know” them and root for them. The stories they told were sometimes searing, like the Argentinian son who recounted the horror of his father being torn from his home by the military, placed in a concentration camp, and then killed. As he performed feats of incredible upper body strength on the Chinese pole, Matias Plaul, in super speed or slo mo, imagined his father’s last meal and came to the frightening revelation that he is now older than his father was at the time of his murder (32). This was not your average circus routine.

Performer Sidney Bateman talked about his escape from the crime and drug-ridden streets of St. Louis where he was raised, and then later laughed uproariously, diving fearlessly through hoops and any other open space he encountered onstage. He then juggled diavolo with his feet — an ongoing testament of the ability of creativity and art to lift a person above his surroundings.

Gabriela Parigi, from Argentina, told her story in a five-minute Acro dance solo. Mishannock Ferroro, when it was his turn to confess, said all he wanted was a round table, like the one his family ate at when he was young. And Melvin Diggs, a brilliant hoop diver and floor acrobat, was obsessed with omelets, so of course the cast made one.

At the beginning of Cuisine & Confessions, the audience was given instructions about their cell phones — leave them on, in vibrate mode. It was as unpredictable as everything else in the show. After about one hour, viewers were asked to pull out their cellphones and set an alarm for exactly 36 minutes from then. And when 36 minutes were up, the oven would light up, the food would be ready, and everyone would eat.

There were several conclusions one could draw from the performance: 1) The cast was made of rubber, which is what allowed them to bend, twist, run, roll, fly, crawl, eat, cook, climb and swing the way they do, 2) Carroll and Soldevila are re-defining both circus and dance, 3) It is extremely difficult for a dancer to be a gymnast, acrobat, or flyer, and requires enormous upper and lower body strength, and it is terrifically demanding for a circus performer to have the grace, agility and the technique of a dancer, 4) Everybody in the show is committed to fun, audience participation, comedy, and drama while performing seemingly impossible feats, and 5) An audience member is lucky to be alive to enjoy such a thrilling, unforgettable stage event.

Les 7 Doigts in currently on a tour of the U.S. Check online at www.7doigts.com/calendrier and if they are coming to your city, go, go, go.

Photo © & courtesy of Alexandre Galliez

Photo © & courtesy of Alexandre Galliez

Photo © & courtesy of Alexandre Galliez

Photo © & courtesy of Alexandre Galliez

Photo © & courtesy of Alexandre Galliez

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