Cirque Du Soleil’s TOTEM

Cirque Du Soleil’s TOTEM


The big blue and yellow tent is back in Santa Monica with an all-new, awe-inspiring big top touring production that interprets the history of human life.

Totem Cirque de Soleil Opening Scene
An effervescent community of amphibians and fish emerge from a giant turtle shell during the opening of TOTEM, from Cirque Du Soleil, now playing in the blue and yellow tent next to the Santa Monica Pier.

Just when you think it can’t get any better, Cirque Du Soleil delivers another dazzling spectacle with TOTEM, the latest Cirque show to roll into town from the Quebec-based performance group that began as a group of 20 street performers in 1984.

This latest rendition of TOTEM, which had its world premiere in 2010, is inspired by the evolution of human life, from creatures swimming in a primordial pool to modern day man with cell phone constantly in hand.

Totem Cirque de Soleil Evolution
The evolution of humans in TOTEM – from ape to a man transfixed on his smart phone – pokes fun at the diagram often seen in anthropology textbooks.

But of course, if you’re familiar with the fanciful, unbridled imaginations of Cirque’s creators, interpreted by performers who defy the limitations of the human body, you know the storyline cannot be contained in something quite so linear. In fact, watching TOTEM is more like being submerged in a vivid dream where the cast of characters interact in a way that wouldn’t be “logical” to a conscious mind – but within the context of a dream, makes perfect sense.

That’s why, at any given moment during the 2-hour, 10-minute show, you may see a scientist, a crew of playful apes, a scrawny “Italian stallion” playboy, American Indians, Russian cosmonauts, beach boy hunks and “love birds” on a giant swing. And that’s just a sampling of the colorful individuals on TOTEM’s stage, often interacting at the same time and culminating with a Bollywood-like finale that has everyone in the audience on their feet and bouncing to the infectious original score performed by Cirque’s eight-member ensemble that includes two vocalists.

Totem Cirque de Soleil Clowns
The clowns from TOTEM team up for this scene that appears as if they’re gallivanting about on a speed boat.

Besides the phenomenal acrobatic performances and dazzling costumes, a trademark of Cirque Du Soleil, this show in particular provides ample opportunities for laughter. The two clowns in the cast recall the masterful art of the likes of Marcel Marceau, relying on pantomime to win the hearts and laughter of the audience. Exceptional, as well, are the set design and visual effects that succeed in creating the appearance of water where there is none, including the illusion of performers swimming under the surface of a lake and emerging from the water and onto the stage.

Totem Cirque de Soleil Lovebirds
This duo on a trapeze smolder with playful sensuality.

TOTEM seems particularly romantic, too. The “fixed duo on trapeze” are like two lovebirds, teasing, playing and sulking in an innocent game of seduction where their bodies intertwine and surrender. But it’s not just the acrobatic choreography that’s gripping. The drop-dead handsome Guilhem Cauchois and his partner Sarah Tessier exchange eye contact that sizzles so hotly that the heat can be felt all the way in the back of the tent.

The show runs though March 16, with performances at 8 p.m. and matinees at 4:30 p.m. on weekends and some weekdays. Prices range from $55 to $135 on weekdays, and $60 to $150 on weekends. Tickets can be purchased online.

Avoid the hassle of driving and parking by taking the comfortable and clean Santa Monica Big Blue Bus that stops right next to the Santa Monica pier. And for an outstanding night out, enjoy dinner first at The Lobster, with tableside views of the Cirque Du Soleil big top and the lights of the amusement park on the pier reflecting on the ocean.

Copyright © Kim Calvert/2014 Singular Communications, LLC. Photos © Cirque Du Soleil

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