Cirque du Soleil is back in New York City with their latest show, Totem that premiered April of 2010 in Montreal. Written and directed by artist Robert Legpage, Totem traces one fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian stage to its desire to fly. The characters evolve on the stage with what symbolizes a giant turtle, something that is behind many ancient civilizations.
The visual background is a swamp with video images that become a river source, a marsh, a lake, an ocean, a volcanic island, a pond, and a starry sky. As the show commences we see the main character, The Crystal Man, as he descends the sky animating the turtle’s skeleton.
What are the acts? Here are just some of them. Bars - The Giant Turtle shell is whisked away to reveal a community of amphibians and fish that lives beneath its carapace. They burst into a playful parallel bars number, leaping from one bar to the next, criss-crossing in mid-air with inches to spare.
Rings Trio -Bollywood-inspired music accompanies two men as they compete against each other on the rings, until a woman arrives and shows them how it’s done. With her graceful movements and physical strength she takes to the skies above a summer beach.
Foot Juggling- Two Crystal Ladies emerge from the fiery bowels of the earth to evoke the creation of the world and the beauty of minerals. Wearing sparkling costumes that mirror the Crystal Man, the artists spin squares of glittering material on their hands and feet. It was like watching winners of a pizza pie toss.
Fixed Trapeze Duo - Like two lovebirds, a young man and woman tease, play and sulk in an innocent game of seduction and eventually intertwine their bodies in a lighthearted vertical dance of fresh, unusual movements and lifts.
Manipulation - The Scientist features an orchestra of glass containers filled with mysterious fluorescent fluids as he steps into a transparent cone and juggles with luminous balls that might represent planets or molecules, making them chase after each other in spiral orbits.
Roller Skaters - In a scene that evokes a wedding ceremony, a pair of roller skaters spin and whirl at heart-stopping speeds atop a tiny platform, 1.8 meters in diameter and shaped like a drum.
Russian Bars – What would we do without them? The jumpers are launched into the air and fly weightlessly across the sky leaping from one bar to the next with astonishing agility that represents the escape from gravity.
No Cirque du Soleil is complete without its comic characters and Totem does lend itself to physical amusement. I have seen Cirque du Soleil since 1984 when they performed in Quebec. Great show. Many times I felt as if I were watching the winning acts of America's Got Talent. Excellent musical score, but not much vocals. Performance is at Citifield. Best to go when there is no Mets home game.