Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunday with Cirque

We began Sunday walking around the Old Port with our friends, Bill Forchion, Serenity Forchion Smith, and their three kids, Zeb, Quin, and Evalina, who were visiting Montreal for a couple of days. As Bill and Serenity were both on Saltimbanco, I was excited to be able to take them around the Totem tent, and to hear their stories of what's the same, and what has changed.

Baz and Zeb are the same age and get along marvelously. Both of them were singularly focused on checking out the "pirate" ship, here is Baz's pirate face.

Then it was lunch in the tent, and off to explore the Montreal Science Centre for the afternoon. It's located on the next pier, and it's a great place for the kids! We're probably going to get a membership, so that we can stop in there for short visits throughout the next few weeks.

Back at the Chapiteau - Sundays are Family Days. No other guests are allowed in the artistic tent, but it is the day when significant others and children populate the grounds of Totem. It begins at 10am with Ladies Boot Camp Workout, which is run by Darren, the Head Coach. I missed it this week but will try it out next week, I'm already nervous. After that is brunch, then the 1:00pm show, and then the 5:00pm show.

We came to sit backstage during the 5:00pm show. It was my first time being on the Tapis Rouge to watch a performance, and it was as much fun as I'd imagined. It's one area of the backstage tent (called the Artistic Tent) which has a big-screen monitor, rug, and couches all around. The kids were joined by other show children on the rug, which became a play zone. In the meantime, the Head Coach sat behind us watching the show in detail for critique, and artists popped in and out, relaxing on the couches before and after their acts. We were able to see familiar faces transformed under beautiful makeup, and the detail of their costumes, and all of the artists' various prep rituals and fist-bumps. And an extraordinary number of ultra-buff bodies working out in every spare moment.

The excitement that the kids and I feel at all of this, however, is already old news for the rest of the cast. We are coming into this two months after the show opened, (not to mention the long creation period) so their daily routines are set by this time. Nevertheless, everyone was extremely welcoming and happy to talk to us. Is it my imagination, or do I sense some relief among them, that Greg has his family here to soften his edges, and give him something else to focus on? Among an extremely high-standard environment of artists, Greg is still intense.

The end of the show is the most fun part. The other little girls on the rug (who up to this point haven't paid a moment's notice to the performance on-screen) jump up and join in the finale dance number. This is the Bollywood-style close of Totem, which is terrifically fun. I'm sure Baz, Ayla and Isa will be joining in soon enough. Then, all the backstage techs and the children make a high-five line, and as the artists stream offstage they slap everyone's hands with cheers and congratulations. They had to reach down really low to get Isa's hand. :)

After the performance on Sunday, the show grounds empty quickly. It's the end of their 10-show week, and the artists especially are exhausted, ready for their day off.

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