Sunday, March 18, 2012

Thoughts on Cirque

This is the train we take to the site!

Last week, Totem performed its 700th show. In less than 2 years.

Amazingly, there are a handful of artists (3 or 4) who haven't missed a single show. There are quite a few others who technically haven't missed any shows, but whose act has been out for one reason or another. Greg doesn't fall into either of these categories - of the first 700, he officially performed in 695 shows. The other 5 were performed by his understudy.

It's a whole lot of shows, no matter how you look at it.

But Totem is still young by Cirque standards. Varekai just celebrated its 3500th show. Mystere passed the 8000 mark in 2010.

Cirque is about to premiere its newest show - called Amaluna - in Montreal. It will replace Totem as the baby of the family. It is good that Cirque is launching a new touring show - after the last few years have seen the closings (or pending closings) of resident shows Banana Shpeel, Zed, Zaia, and Viva Elvis. Cirque did launch Michael Jackson: the Immortal, and Zarkana during this time, but these are also shows targeted to specific markets (arenas and theaters) and not Big Top touring.

Chatting about Cirque's other shows is a continual pastime on tour. Which shows have you seen? Which ones were good? Which ones have you worked for? (I was talking with a technician the other day who has worked on 12 different shows!) It is not unheard-of for artists on Totem to have never seen another Cirque du Soleil production. Here in California, we're close enough to Las Vegas for people to visit, and to try to study up on the multitude of shows there. It's always fun to hear their impressions.

Additionally, our tour sees a large number of technicians come and go, usually transferring to and from other shows. Occasionally a technician will go from being a "fly-in" (enlisted for setup and breakdown) to becoming a permanent staff member. All of these changes are documented and publicized in regular newsletters, and in a photographic "Who's Who" that's distributed yearly.

It is a big enough population on tour that you can't learn everyone's name. We have our spheres. Mine is The Families. Greg's is The Artists, and there is overlap between them. The Artists, in fact, overlap the other spheres as well: the Technicians, and the Support Staff. Within each group there are sub-groups - the Russians, the Musicians, the Schoolteachers, the Riggers. One of my favorite experiences of life with Totem is bridging a gap into a new sphere, getting to know someone in one of the other areas.


  1. You haven't done a profile in awhile...maybe a Technician or Support Staff person. Maybe one of the teachers.