Cirque Du Soleil TOTEM

Port Of Los Angeles Berth 46  is the place to be from now through November 10, and it’s not because some majestic ocean liner or USS Battleship has arrived at Los Angeles Harbor. Non, messieurs-dames. The big news down San Pedro way is that the world-famous Cirque Du Soleil has pitched its blue-and-yellow bigtop (aka “Le Grand Chapiteau”) there, treating Angelinos to its latest spéctacle, and ooh-la-la is this spéctacke spéctaculaire!

russian-bar Having set up permanent shop in the Nevada Wonderland called Las Vegas, Cirque Du Soleil is simultaneously criss-crossing the U.S.A. with TOTEM,its latest touring show—two hours of magical derring-do all wrapped up in a gorgeous design package certain to delight the entire family.

Press materials describe the show as tracing “the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations.”

More simply put, TOTEM offers audiences a dozen specialty acts whose performers show off grace, agility, and athletic prowess with bars, hoops, rings, and sticks whether on the ground, on unicycles, or suspended breathtakingly high above the crowd.

Barres duo-fixed-trapeze

Among the evening’s most impressive acts are Riki Fujimaki, David Henderson, Umi Miya, and Cauliang Wang leaping and crisscrossing in mid-air atop the giant centerstage “turtle” said to represent our planet’s origins;  Guilhem Cauchois and Sarah Tessier doing their daring aerial “dance” of love on the fixed trapeze;

Danseur-amerindien foot-juggling

Native American Eric Hernandez proving that there’s more to spinning a hoop than hula hooping as he manipulates as many as five at a time, first alone, and later with Shandien Larance as his partner;  “Crystal Ladies” twins Marina and Svetlana Tsodikova spinning squares of glittering fabric on their hands and feet in the amazing feat they call “foot juggling”;
Patins-a-roulettes  and Massimiliano Medini and Denise Garcia-Sorta doing thrilling things on roller skates that must be seen to be believed.

Monocycles-et-bols Acts One and Two each have their own dazzling finales. Pre-intermission gives us five Chinese beauties on unicycles displaying agility, balance, and grace as they toss bowl after metal bowl to one another and never miss catching a single one on their heads. (Okay, there was the teeniest bit of hand assistance on Opening Night.)

Barres-Russes The evening’s grand finale has three Russian acrobats launched sky high by their six companions and leaping from one bar to another as if weightless.

clowns Clown Mikhail Usov has the audience in stitches as a wacky fisherman in Act One and later, in Act Two, with Pippo Crotti as speedboat driver and water-skier … because what would any Cirque be without les clowns.

Le-Scientifique “Tracker” Ante Ursic performs with “devil sticks,” “Scientist” Greg Kennedy juggles luminous dancing balls that somehow keep changing color inside a giant transparent cone, and “Crystal Man” David Resnick astounds from the moment he descends head down from the very top of Le Grand Chapiteau.

osa.jpg Writer-director extraordinaire Robert Lepage is aided and abetting by a sensational team of creative talents, most notably choreographer Jeffrey Hall, who integrates dance with acrobatic-performance designer Florence Pot’s athletic feats; costumer Kym Barrett, whose skin-tight outfits take as their inspiration real-life animals, plants, and birds, with more than a bit of help from make-up designer Nathalie J. Simard; projection-content designer Pedro Pires and lighting designer Étienne Boucher, who make us believe that what we are seeing is real, even when it’s on film; and composers, arrangers and orchestrators Guy Dubuc and Marc Lessard, who surround the entire production with its gorgeous, pulsating soundtrack, performed live by onstage musicians and vocalist.

Other creative and performing talents are too numerous to mention here, but all deserve kudos for bringing Los Angeles a taste of what folks around the world have come to know as the one-and-only Cirque Du Soleil. As October turns into November, TOTEM tops any other show in town for awe-(and-aahs)-inspiring entertainment.

Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, 3011 S. Miner St., San Pedro. Through November 10. See website for detailed schedule.  Click here for ticket reservations.

–Steven Stanley
October 15, 2013


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