“Emotional, acrobatic and surprising” are three words that effortlessly rolls off spokesman Francis Jalbert’s tongue when ask to describe Cirque du Soleil’s Totem
“Each Cirque show is unique,” he says. “The writers and directors of every show always start from a blank page.”
Performing under the vibrant yellow and blue Grand Chapiteau (big top) situated at Atlantic Station
located in the northwestern edge of midtown Atlanta
through December 30, Jalbert says the show takes the audience back to the roots of mankind and examines who we are, where we are, and where we are going.
With acrobatic and balancing act performances guaranteed to keep the audience on
the edge of their seats, he adds Totem makes a strong connection through use of video projection that changes the overall mood and set during the two-act, 150-minute show (includes 30 minute intermission.)
“It provides the audience with the feel of traveling, moving back and forth. They never know where they are going to be taken to next.”
And for those who may think the theme is heavy, dealing with mankind, Jalbert points out the show appeals to all ages.
“It’s easy to relate to, everything is universal since there is no spoken word. Every audience member will feel their own emotions and draw their own interpretation from the show. No one will have the same view of Totem
He adds, “It’s a huge production in a big top and the audience is close to the action and sounds. They can forget about everything and let the artists take them somewhere else.”
Details, details, details
And just how big is the production? Well, Totem requires 65 trailers to transport 1,200 tons of equipment. It takes eight days to set up, and three day to take down.
There 53 artists in the cast, representing 18 countries (this doesn’t include crew,
employees and other support staff), and although English is the official language, many other languages are spoken on-site.
As for the costumes, around 400 people work on them. The fabric come out white and the designers do all of the dyeing and painting that’s needed.
Jalbert points out, “It’s all about the details.”
For instance, The Crystal Man’s (recurring character) costume features about 4,500 reflective components on a stretch velvet leotard.
“The designers integrate live elements into the costumes. The artists are wearing tight bodysuits, so the audience can see the body’s movements.”
Chatting with an Artists
Greg Kennedy always juggled as a kid. Even as he got older, went through school and earned his engineering degree, he never gave up juggling.
However, it was more than a hobby, it was a craft.
“I took to the newer forms of juggling. I worked to enhanced them, and built a name in juggling.”
Taking the next step, he left his job and pursued his dream. Long story short, he joined Totem three years ago, where he has been casted as scientist. Enclosed in a cone, similar to what might found in a lab, but life-sized, he juggles illuminated balls. Kennedy comments that the set up is visually interesting.
While touring with family in tow (wife and three children, two of which attend the on-site school), his days are spent training and double-checking is set.
“It’s can be a nice, slow pace,” he says, grinning.
He also comments on the family support of the company. Not only is their a school on site, but touring has allowed his children to travel around the world.
“They have this worldview of everything.”
When up on stage, Kennedy says it’s all about the character presentation, but the artists do have the freedom to tweak with one another on stage while sticking to the overall script.
“It keeps it fresh and new.”
He adds while Totem
is an elaborate production, “each element fits together perfectly.”
Totem runs Tuesdays and Wednesday, 8 p.m., Thursdays -Saturdays, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sundays, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. There are no Monday performances. As always, please check the calendar for more detailed information. Regular ticket prices vary, depending on the seat. For adults, prices range from $43.50 - 153.50, children (ages 2-12) $33.00 - 111.50 and for students (ages 13 and older), seniors and military $40.00 - 139.50. There is also a VIP Experience, adults $275.50 - 278.50 , children (ages 2-12) $196.00 - 199.00. Behind-the-Scenes, available on select nights, $413.50.
photo credit: OSA Images Costumes: Kym Barrett Cirque du Soleil 2010