Totem (Cirque du Soleil)
|Company||Cirque du Soleil|
|Show type||Touring show|
|Date of premiere||April 22, 2010|
|Writer and director||Robert Lepage|
|Director of creation||Neilson Vignola|
|Set and props designer||Carl Fillion|
|Costume designer||Kym Barett|
|Lighting designer||Étienne Boucher|
|Sound designer||Jacques Boucher|
|Makeup designer||Nathalie Simard|
|Acrobatic performance designer||Florence Pot|
|Rigging designer||Pierre Masse|
|Projection designer||Pedro Pires|
|Preceded by||Viva Elvis (2010)|
|Succeeded by||Zarkana (2011)|
Totem is a touring show by Cirque du Soleil that premiered in Montréal on April 22, 2010. It was written and directed by previous collaborator Robert Lepage (Kà). Cirque du Soleil describes Totem's theme as the evolution of humanity from its primordial, amphibian state toward the aspiration of flight, taking inspiration from many of humanity's founding myths. The show was awarded the 2013 New York Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience.
All of Cirque du Soleil's previous touring productions were originally created to be performed inside large, custom-designed tents (called the grand chapiteau), but many of those shows have since been re-staged in arenas and other venues after the conclusion of their "big top" tour. Totem's creation team faced the challenge of designing a show that could be adapted for arenas and other venues from the outset. Totem began its tour in Canada (Montreal and Quebec) before heading to Europe (Amsterdam). This was a change from the usual touring routes, the next stop usually being San Francisco, as Cirque already had three touring shows (Ovo, Koozå and Alegría) in the United States.
- 1 Set and technical information
- 2 Cast
- 3 Acts
- 4 Costumes
- 5 Music
- 6 Tour
- 7 References
Set and technical information
Cirque du Soleil used interactive projection technologies to enhance and provide variety to the types of scenes created for Totem, including swamps, starry nights, lakes, volcanos, and other natural environments. The kinetic images are created with the help of infrared cameras; the projection system can dynamically create projections, making it seem as if they are reacting to the artists' movements in both real-time and pre-recorded sequences. One of the major elements for the set is the large turtle carapace, which functions as both a decorative piece as well as acrobatic equipment. When not in use, the shell is tilted or raised completely to the top of the tent or arena. It weighs 2,700 pounds (1,200 kg), has two horizontal bars, and is covered in a non-slip finish. Another major component of the set is the "scorpion bridge", which functions as an entrance at times. It is made of 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of steel and has eight mineral oil hydraulic motors which allow it to move in three dimensions—extending, retracting, curling, etc. Underneath said bridge is housing for a laser, speakers, lighting equipment, and cameras. Movement of the scorpion bridge is controlled by an operator who uses four infrared cameras. Of final note, the marsh reeds at the back of the stage are actually inflatable, which allows for easier transport between performance locations.
Equipment and props that are not part of the set have been just as carefully planned out and created. The unicycles are 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, but are very light for better maneuverability. Similarly, the perch poles are made of duralumin, the largest of which is 33 feet (10 m) tall. In total summation, Totem utilizes 65 tractor-trailer sized containers to transport its 1,200 tonnes (1,200 long tons; 1,300 short tons) of equipment from site to site.
During the Scientist's juggling act, he uses balls made with 96 red, 96 blue, and 96 green LED lights inside. The colors are changed remotely by show technicians during the performance.
- The Tracker: Assists and guides the Scientist, and is a friend to the animals.
Performed by : Ante Ursic (Apr 2010 - June 2014)
- The Scientist: Performs experiments and visits the different worlds of Totem.
Performed by : Greg Kennedy (Apr 2010 - July 2014), Chris Chiappini (September 2014 - present), Thom Wall (August 2014 - present)
- The Amerindian dancer: Traces the evolution of species.
Performed by : Nakotah Raymond Larance (2010-2012), Arik Pipestem (Oct 2010-June 2011) Eric Hernandez (2012-present), Shandien Sonwai Larance (2012-present)
- The Crystal man: Opens the show by bringing the carapace to life, and ends the show by diving into the lagoon.
Performed by : Joseph David Putignano, David Resnick and Wang Caoliang
- Clown: the "Sad Fisherman" performs ping-pong ball tricks and drives the speedboat.
Performed by : Mikhail Usov
- Clown: the "Italian Tourist" acts as a foil to the Tracker and water-skis from the speedboat.
Performed by : Pippo Crotti (Apr 2010 - Jan 2014, August 2014), Roch Jutras (Jan 2014 - April 2014), Jon Monastero (Apr 2014 to present)
- Apes: a troupe of 5-6 characters mark the progress of Human Evolution from Ape to Businessman With Cell Phone.
- Bars (Carapace): A traditional gymnastics apparatus with use of a trampoline ground for a twist.
- Hoops Dancer Part 1: A fast paced Native American hoop dance featuring a solo artist.
- Rings trio: A traditional gymnastics act featuring a high flying trio using sheer strength and flexibility to create multiple poses.
Performed by: Alevtyna Titarenko, Yann Arnaud, Gael Ouisse, Olli Torkkel
- Foot Juggling: Using flat squares made of fabric material, two artists perform an antipodism act while spinning these squares on their hands and legs, they throw the squares from one foot/hand to the other and even to each other's feet/hands.
Performed by: Marina Tsodikova & Svetlana Tsodikova
- Handbalancing: An artist precariously balances on a high hand balancing platform, using contortion and gymnastic techniques.
Performed by: Pavel Saprykin
- Unicycles and bowls: A group of female artists ride seven foot high unicycles while balancing metal bowls on their heads. The performers place a bowl on their foot, and kick it back to the head. The act consisted of kicking two or even five bowls at once, kicking bowls to people in front or behind them and even kicking a teapot onto one performers head.
- Devil sticks: The tracker manipulates a long stick with two other sticks that he holds onto, both accuracy and timing are used in this energetic act.
Performed by: Markus Furtner
- Fixed trapeze Duo: A young couple perform death-defying stunts high up on a trapeze. The act represents both the desire and aggravation couples face.
Performed by: Rosalie Ducharme & Louis - David Simoneau (Apr 2010-Aug 2012), Sarah Tessier & Guilhem Cauchois (Aug 2012-present)
- Manipulation: The Scientist rolls several LED lit balls in a giant glass cone, creating a whole new take on the average juggling act.
Performed by : Greg Kennedy; Chris Chiappini; Thom Wall
- Hoops Dancer Part 2: Two performers dance with hoops in a pounding, percussion-heavy dance.
- Roller skates: A couple create stunning poses as they skate on a platform at high speed.
Performed by : Massimiliano Medini & Denis Garcia-Sorta
- Russian bars: A nerve wracking act that involves four inch thick planks that artist use to jump high in the air while performing flips, only to land perfectly on the bar again.
Acts in rotation
- Hand-to-Hand: A duo perform a traditional hand to hand act, they keep the act at a heartbeat like rhythm.
Performed by : Gael Ouisse & Alevtyna Titarenko
- Perches: Several performers climb up high poles that are balanced on an artists shoulder.
As Totem's storyline includes the evolution of humanity, inspiration for the 779 costume elements came directly from nature. Costume designer Kym Barrett primarily focused on how to treat various fabrics rather than the materials themselves in order to replicate the elements found in nature. Such treatments included advanced printing techniques, fluorescent pigments, and utilizing mirror fragments and crystals for adornment. Below is more detailed information about specific costume pieces and the wardrobe collection as a whole.
- The Crystal Man's stretch velvet leotard is encrusted with nearly 4,500 reflective components; 4,001 are mirror fragments. This costume is the show's heaviest, weighing eight pounds.
- The foot juggling duo's lycra body stockings are each adorned with 3,500 crystals, and each headpiece has another 1,000.
- The hoop dancer's costume is inspired by not one traditional Native American tribe, but by several. For instance it includes a Hopi cross and headdress.
- The unicyclists each have a very distinct look that suggests autumn and the abundance from harvest. Each costume is printed with earth tones and then embellished with hand-sewn details, including bolts, screws, seedpods, feathers, flowers and insects.
As Totem's storyline is about the evolution of humanity, the musical components selected by composers Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard aimed to reflect this theme. Their score includes instruments and rhythms from around the world, including elements from Native American music, Spanish flamenco, and Indian music. One unique attribute of the music in Totem is that all the musicians sing at some point, which allows for moments of a cappella.
Below are the track titles as they appear in order on the CD, which was originally released on October 6, 2010. The items in parentheses reflect the act correlated with each song.
- Omé Kayo (Opening, high bar, hoop dance 1)
- Cum Sancto Spiritu (Hand-balancing)
- Indie-Hip (Rings trio)
- Koumaya (Unicycles with bowls)
- Crystal Pyramid (Foot juggling)
- Thunder (Perches)
- Toreador (Devil sticks)
- Qué Viyéra (Fixed trapeze duo)
- Mr. Beaker (Manipulation)
- Onta (Hoops dance 2, roller skates)
- Kunda Tayé (Hand to Hand)
- Fast Boat (Speedboat clown act)
- Terre-mère (Russian bars)
- Omé Yo Kanoubé (Finale)
Here is a list of all the singers in Totem, since the premiere on April 22, 2010.
Esi Kwesiwa Acquaah-Harrison : From April 22, 2010 (Montreal) to February 17, 2011 (London), From January, 05 2012 (London) to June 30, 2013 (Philadelphia), From November 21, 2013 (Irvine) to present
Coco Mbassi : From March 03, 2011 (Charlotte) to May 01, 2011 (Baltimore)
Odessa Thornhill : From May 12, 2011 (Pittsburgh) to December 18, 2011 (San Francisco), From July 11, 2013 (Ottawa) to November 10, 2013 (Los Angeles)
Christian Laveau : From April 22, 2010 (Montreal) to present
The Totem tour started off different from normal tours by going to Europe before coming to the United States.
The following colorboxes indicate the region of each performance:Europe North America Oceania
Grand Chapiteau tour
- Jaworowski, Ken (March 25, 2013). "Where Bowls and Bodies Fly Though the Air". The New York Times.
- "Kathleen Lavoie, Le Soleil article November 1, 2008" (in French). www.cyberpresse.ca. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "Cirque du Soleil: Totem—About the Show". www.cirquedusoleil.com. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "TOTEM Wins 2013 Drama Desk Award by Richasi Published: May 21, 2013".
- "Totem: Press Kit" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-10.
- "Totem: Set Design and Projections" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "Set Design of TOTEM". www.cirquedusoleil.com. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- Cirque du Soleil (2011). Evolution - The Creative Journey (Deluxe Totem Souvenir Program) (in EN, FR).
- "Cirque du Soleil Presents its new Touring Show: Totem". Cirque du Soleil. 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "Totem: The Main Characters" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "Totem: Press Kit" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2012-11-15.
- "Totem: Costumes" (PDF). Cirque du Soleil (Press Kit). Retrieved 2011-02-04.
- "Cirque Tribune: Totem Music". Cirque Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-04.