I had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil’s Totem recently. I have a fondness for the unique sort of entertainment for which Cirque is known. While I prefer their installation shows in Las Vegas, I still enjoy the touring shows as well.
Totem is currently on tour under the “Grand Chapiteau” after having opened in Montreal in 2010. Director Robert LePage weaves a tale that seems to have been inspired by various origin stories surrounding humanity and evolution.
As with all Cirque shows, the story is really only just suggested and provides a backdrop for spectacular acrobatic acts and incredibly good-looking, very fit humans doing incredible things.
One of the more remarkable visual effects in this show is a floor which is projected upon. The video interacts with the performers in real time. For example, there is a scene where the video is footage of the waters edge. Performers descend down a ramp and “enter” the water. As they do, the footage of the water “pools” where they walk. It’s a wonderfully executed effect that carries you into the next moment of the show.
The fixed trapeze act was especially good, with the performers exhibiting quite a bit of character in addition to their athletic prowess.
Also good was the Amerindian Dancer, who performed an energetic hoop act.
The five Asian girls on seven-foot-tall Unicycles juggling bowls was a huge crowd favorite, as was the foot-juggling act. These two performers juggled fabric squares in a variety of contorted positions (backwards, upside down, balancing on each other).
As usual, the music was a combination of unique instruments with a lot of “world” influences. One of the big differences for this show is that it features a number of vocalists and they are often integrated into some of the performances
I think it’s important to get out and see different forms of entertainment. I think a steady diet of just plays or just movies would be come quite stale after a while. I like changing it up; and seeing a Cirque show is a great way to do that. The shows are always well-presented, thoughtful, and definitely remind you what humans are capable of doing when they focus and train. They are also invariably full of beautiful technical moments that are intricately woven into the story.
If you have the opportunity to see Totem, I highly recommend it.