In March 2013, Cirque du Soleil’s “Totem” will make its New York premiere under the big top in a parking lot at Citi Field in Queens. “Totem” opened in 2010 in Montreal, Canada, where it was described as “a true wow” by the Montreal Gazette according to Felicia Lee of the New York Times. This opening will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Cirque du Soleil’s first New York show. According to troupe members, “Totem” “traces the journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly,” as told to Kenneth Jones of Playbill.com. According to the cast, “the characters evolve on stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations.”
“Totem” is written and directed by Robert Lepage, who also directed “KA”, which currently plays at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Lepage has many stage and opera credits. The founder of “Totem” is Guy Laliberte, with Gilles Ste-Croix as the artistic guide. The show’s director of creation is Nielson Vignola, with set and prop design by Carl Fillion and costumes by Kim Barrett. Fillion created the set design with a large oval framework, to represent the skeletal substructure of a turtle shell, which houses some acrobatic equipment. For costume designs, Barrett researched animals, plants, birds, and designs of tribal and cultural origin which would be represented in the show.
From March 14 through April 17, audiences will experience a cast of 52 performers from 19 different countries representing characters such as the Tracker, the Scientist, the Amerindian Dancer, the Crystal Man, 2 clowns, and a group of Apes. This circus performance features acrobatics and circus tricks including the parallel bars, trampolines, unicycles, foot juggling, hoops, the trapeze, roller skates, and Russian bars. Tricks are choreographed to a soundtrack of music from all over the world and many cultures, including Native American, Indian, and even Spanish flamenco. What is unique to the playlist is that in some parts of the show, the musicians sing, allowing for the introduction of a cappella music.
Since its opening in 2010, “Totem” has toured 16 cities and four countries, including Canada, where it played in Montreal and Quebec; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and London, England. In the United States, “Totem” toured Charlotte, NC; Baltimore, MD; Pittsburgh, PA; San Jose, CA; Boston, MA; and Washington D.C. This leg of the tour, hitting Queens in March, will also play Atlanta, GA; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; and Ottowa, ON, Canada.
“Totem” has been described as “one of the most magical Cirque du Soleil productions in years,” by Karen D’Souza of the San Jose Mercury News and by Robert Hurwitt of the San Francisco Chronicle as, “the most enjoyable new Cirque du Soleil show to come along in quite a while.” “Totem” tickets for the Queens performances will be available to the general public starting November 30. For more information, visit cirquedusoleil.com.