Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cirque Du Soleil

       As the grand finale of the semester, we saw the Cirque Du Soleil show Totem. I don't think that I have ever witnessed a more imaginative performance. The show began with a person dressed in a sparkling suit (a human disco ball) descending from the ceiling into the midst of other performers on a giant turtle shell frame. Later, this same performer twirled while dangling from the ceiling once again. A giant blue laser was shot at him, causing dazzling light to play around the inside of the tent.


        At one point in the show, a group of performers marched out onto the stage dressed in science fiction helms and suits that glowed under black light. They launched each other into the air using giant bamboo springboards. This was by far one of the most tense acts of the show as it seemed that the performers were just barely able to stop themselves once they had built up momentum.


        My favorite performance was the interaction between two trapeze artists. They dangled together from the ceiling, sharing a single hanging rod for support. Their choreography utilized each other's bodies as props. They spun and caught each other just before falls and were constantly in motion and fluidly shifting. In my mind the most incredible aspect of this was that they were telling a love story through their physical motion.


        From what I heard after the show, a lot of other students found that their favorite performance was also the most emotionally charged. It was certainly one of the most unusual as well. It involved a man and a woman roller skating on a small circular platform. This act almost seems physically impossible, but the two performers told an intimate love story by twirling and circling each other atop this tiny platform. The man often lifted the woman from the ground to carry her during the high speed spins. The performance carried with it an air of intensity as the woman appeared to be in constant danger of having her head dashed against the ground, but the man always saved her at the last second.
        Performances that truly tied Totem together for me were the ones that focused on first nations themes. There were several in which a first nations performer danced on the stage to first nations folk music. He used painted wooden rings to create instantly transforming sculptures that were both abstract and symbolic of different animals.


        Shortly after the show began, I realized how technically impressive the performance was. The stage was capable of many movement necessary to reveal different props. Props would often descend from the ceiling for performers to use. Specific parts of the stage were also fully articulated, allowing for transformations that allowed this part of the stage to curl back on itself, slide forward and backward, and raise and lower. The music for Totem was truly unbelievable. It was all live music. It became quickly apparent why the show would have been impossible without live music. Much of the music reacted to the performance, with beats being in-sync with actions on stage. In addition, the first nations folk music was also fantastic. Having seen Totem, I can certainly say that I have never seen anything like it before and could not have asked for a better grand finale to an incredible semester abroad!


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