My daughter celebrated her seventh birthday this past week. Seven! What the WHAT?!
I was so excited that we were able to see Cirque du Soleil TOTEM on her birthday. It was a late night for us on a school night — the show started at 8pm, which is normally her bedtime — but she was SO excited, and it was well worth it. She loved the whole experience!
I love Cirque shows, and if you have never been, I think they are definitely worth it, especially for date nights or for the whole family — if you have kids that are elementary school age or older. My daughter was absolutely captivated almost the whole show. Part of the magic for me, the sappy mom, was just watching her face while she watched the show. So awesome!
Totem: a story of man, nature, and science
TOTEM features many of the signature Cirque du Soleil magic along with some interesting unique features. Through amazing acrobatics, music, dance, elaborate makeup and costumes, and awesome set design, TOTEM weaves a story of man, nature, and science.
As with all Cirque shows, we couldn’t take photos during the show (although a woman next to us kept taking photos with her cell phone. I won’t lie: it was annoying and distracting.). All of the photos below from the show are courtesy of Cirque du Soleil; backstage photos are my own.
My daughter and I both loved the frogs and the acrobatics of the opening sequence.
We got to meet the Amerindian who performed mesmerizing hoop dances.
The crystal ladies dazzled the audience with their talented spinning of glittery materials. We learned later that their costumes are made of hundreds of Swarovski crystals. They definitely sparkled on stage! My daughter loved all of the shimmer and glitter of the show.
Awe Inspiring Set Design
The acrobatics are, indeed, as impressive and fascinating as you would expect of all Cirque shows, but for this designer, it was the set design that blew me away. I am seriously in awe of the work done by Set Designer Carl Fillion and Image Content Designer Pedro Pires. In the center back of the stage was a section that magically transformed from swamp to river to pond to marsh to sky. Images that were shot in places like Iceland, Hawaii, and Guatemala were projected onto the stage, and rippled and moved in absolutely perfect motion with the performers and music. I loved the performers, but there were moments where I honestly couldn’t take my eyes off the set design.
Even though it was late, my daughter was excited to go backstage and meet her favorite character, the Crystal Man, who started the show and served as a transitional character for many of the scenes. When he first appeared, she loved that he looked like a big disco ball descending. Side note: my daughter is obsessed with getting a disco ball for her room these days. When she saw a mini pink disco ball hanging from one of the desks backstage, she was SO excited! But, I digress.
Here we are with Crystal Man, the Hoop Dancer, and one of the cool frogs. They were all very nice and welcoming, and I really appreciate them taking the time after their performance to talk with us.
We learned that the performers do their own make up. They are men and women of many, many talents! We got a sneak peek at their massive MAC makeup drawers:
It was cool to see some of the props used up close (my daughter was excited to see the unicycles — those ladies were amazing too!). The monkey heads were a little creepy up close without being attached to bodies . . . but also, way cool!
The backstage tour was definitely an AWESOME birthday treat for Bliss Girl, and for me, too. It was wonderful learning about how these talented performers come from 15 countries, and how there are three teachers who tour with TOTEM to teach the children on tour. Currently, there are 18 children between the ages of six months to 17 years old. I think it’s fun for my kids to hear about how these kids go to school and travel all over the world with their parents.
Know before you go
Cirque du Soleil TOTEM is playing in Portland, Oregon NOW THROUGH MAY 4, 2014, in the big tents by the Portland Expo Center. Here are some tips if you plan to go:
ARRIVE EARLY. Parking right now is very, very challenging because of the swap meet happening at the Portland Expo Center. There is temporary general admission parking under the freeway bridges in a large, muddy lot, and then we boarded a shuttle bus to get to the show. It took us almost an hour to get to the Cirque tents after arriving at the Expo Center. I am not sure if this will change after the swap meet ends, but be sure to call ahead if you have any questions. It’s always good to plan to arrive early anyway.
DRESS APPROPRIATELY. Because of the parking situation, be sure to wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Jeans are perfectly acceptable here. Layer up no matter how warm it is during the day, because by the time you leave the show (if you attend a night show), you’ll be glad for that warm jacket and scarf.
EXPECT TYPICAL PDX EVENT CONCESSIONS. You can buy the typical popcorn, soft drinks, bottled water, wine, beer, and candy, and you can bring them into the show. They take cash and credit cards. There are also Cirque du Soleil merchandise stands where you can buy everything from magnets to butterfly finger puppets to umbrellas to apparel.
For more info and to find a show near you, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/totem.
For more TOTEM reviews, check out these great fellow PDX blogs:
Disclosure: Thanks so much to Cirque du Soleil for the complimentary tickets to TOTEM. The opinions are, as always, my own.