Don't Miss Cirque de Soleil's Totem

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Totem will be in town until March 16th. Click here for tickets. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Cirque de Soleil’s new production, Totem, is here in LA just 2 more weeks until March 16th; the familiar blue and yellow big tops are just north of the Santa Monica Pier as usual.

The new production is has a grandiose conception: the history of humankind from beginning to present. As usual there is a rapid sequence of amazing acts, trapeese, rings, clowns, acrobatics, and other feats. Performers make up an international cast: they come from Belarus, China, France, Quebec, Italy, Spain, Mongolia, Japan.

The music is less Brazilian than their last production, OVO and a little more varied: you get a snippet of a Balinese kecak trance ritual, Native American chants and koyanisqaatsi-sounding elements, South African, West African, Andean pan flutes, Indian sitar and vocals, Arabic modes and quarter-tones, hip hop, kumbaya chants, Italian mandolins, flamenco, even surf guitar a la The Ventures and 60s pop a la Sandy Nelson’s song “Teen Beat”.

The music is fast-flowing, energetic, and expertly performed. It is also mostly live and acoustic, far different than the earlier Cirque productions that relied on fewer musicians and more synths and sampling.

My flute teacher once performed for a conventional circus. When the lions came out in front of the musicians, all the musicians would duck when the lions raised their tails. Lions are retromingent, meaning they pee backwards. No worries about this at Cirque de Soleil: they’ve never used animals, don’t have hay or stinky smells. Also no worries about any mistreatment, which is very refreshing and innovative. Typical of this great company.

Only 2 weeks left, don’t miss it! The circus leaves town after March 16th.

Here is the trailer.