Saturday, March 5, 2011

Totem in Charlotte - renewing love

Today was a truly great day. I spent it at the Totem site, all day with the kids.

As you can see from the picture, the tent here is set up at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. During certain seasons this is a NASCAR mecca. Right now, it's off-season, and that's why we're in one of their parking lots. You can see a bit of the speedway behind the tent.

The day started off with lunch in the new kitchen. For reasons unknown to me, they have a new kitchen facility for the American tour. It's based out of a tractor-trailer, high off the ground, and it seems spacious, well-equipped and homey - I love the new tables, which are decorated with photos of other Cirque du Soleil tours, and the cozy play area with kids' toys and cushioned benches.

The afternoon was full of nice reunions with other tour members. I had long conversations with Marina, one of the Crystal Ladies, and with Melanie, the Artistic Director. I learned that Fabio is interested in improving his English, and Marc is staying steady with his Chinese practice every day. Alexander helped me pronounce the names of the months in Russian, and Jean cleared up a confusion I had with "можешь". I met the new singer, Coco. Gipsy and Isa practiced writing their letters, and pretended to be a marching band around the site.

With everyone I encountered, there were lots of hugs and air-kisses. There were plenty of laughs about life in Concord NC. There was lots of checking-in - how is that new baby sleeping? How's your shoulder? Did you decide to get a car here in the States? Have you heard yet where the tent will be in Baltimore? etc. It felt, again, like a family.

In the evening, I brought the kids to see the show from the front of house. Our dear friend at the box office put us in front row center! It was the first time I'd sat there for the show, and I couldn't believe how thrilling it was. Although some things do get lost with the angles, the proximity to the artists is just amazing. They flew over our heads, peered into our eyes, breathed and sweated and somersaulted only a few feet away. And knowing so many of them as I do now, it was especially exciting to watch them in action, so close up.

And the Charlotte audience! I must ask forgiveness for the slights I've laid on Charlotte's population this past week - this was a great and appreciative group of people. They laughed loudly at every joke, gasped, oohed and aahed, and generally gave the Totem cast all the love they deserved. It was heartwarming.

Some of my most-cherished moments in the show this evening - the lizards and frogs and fish in Carapace were close-up, creepy, and fantastic! Nakotah was marvelous in Hoop Dancer 1, looking as alive and charged-up as I've ever seen him. It was fun to see all the new things in the Perch act, and the new trick in the Russian bar act, with Nikita floating high above the bars. The new moment with Joe changing from the monkey to Crystal Man is nice, and thought-provoking. And Lovebirds, always my favorite, never loses its power for me.

Giving them their standing ovation at the end, with my three kids around me, and meeting everyone's eyes with my excited smile and applause, filled me with a glowing, happy energy. In a magazine I was reading the other day, they asked "what fills you with joy, gets your heart racing, and brings you fully present in the moment?" It was easy for me to answer that - circus, of course. And although circus happiness can take a lot of forms, the simplest one is just this - being in the audience of a magnificent show.

It's all going to be OK.

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