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Dynamic Cirque show Totem traces human evolution

The Southerner

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BY ZAC CARTER

The Grand Chapiteau has returned to Atlantic Station. With its astounding acrobatics and breathtaking choreography, Cirque du Soleil brings its audience along on the journey known as Totem. The story depicts the evolution of man from its amphibian form to its everlasting potential as an infinite state of being. Director Robert LePage not only exhibits the story of human existence in his production, but also captures the essence of love, heartbreak and humor, as well as the scrutiny of the human soul.

Totem begins with “the crystal man” descending from the heavens to create the first life on Earth, represented by the huge shell of a turtle—an animal that appeared on the planet over 200 million years ago. The shell is removed and the fossil is all that remains, which suddenly turns into a gigantic jungle gym for a group of very acrobatic amphibians.These amphibians soon evolve into monkeys and then into modern men carrying suitcases and cellphones. A scientist somewhat resembling Charles Darwin wanders through, taking notes, observing and experimenting in a lab, while man continues to evolve, find love and explore the depths of ocean and space.

53 athletes from 18 countries perfectly execute highly skilled acts of trapeze and rings aerial work, parallel-bar gymnastics, hand and foot juggling, unicycling, balancing, roller-skating, tumbling and more. Among these scenes is a fantastic duo trapeze act, which represents man and woman’s first encounter with each other. The two gracefully fly through the air on a single trapeze, intertwining their bodies so that each relies on the other to keep them both from crashing to the ground far below. It is an aerial ballet of rejection and attraction that ends in the acceptance of one another and a peaceful embrace.

The Russian bar act is among one of the most exciting stunts. A team of strong men rest flexible wooden beams upon their shoulders, while the nimble acrobats on top of the beams are sprung into the air like astronauts defying gravity. The athletes flip and turn so fast that all you see are blurs of colorful neon emanating from their martian suits.

These death-defying acts are not the only entertaining aspects of Cirque du Soleil. Throughout the show, projections are used to create the effects of natural environments on the stage. This gives the performers different settings to interact with and adds a whole new element to the performance. Lasers and colorful lights accompanied by live music and surround sound immerse the audience in the show. African drumming dominates the soundtrack with global accents of Middle-Eastern, Spanish Flamenco, Italian folk and American-Indian songs and rhythms.

This intricately executed show definitely gives audiences its money’s worth of jaw-dropping action and gymnastic precision. It’s as likely to impress veterans of past Cirque shows as it is to bewilder newcomers.

 

 

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Dynamic Cirque show Totem traces human evolution