If you think watching the XXX Olympics inspired you to get your butt in gear (or gently reminded you that you will never be an Olympic athlete), you have no idea how much TOTEM by Cirque du Soleil will blow you away.Â First, I’m a huge fan of seeing their shows in a tent. It’s intimate and there’s not a bad seat in the house, well, there are better seats, and there are seats that have a bit of an obstructed view, but overall, I put my vote in the Tent Ballot Box.Â While getting to National Harbor may not be convenient particularly at rush hour, the show is worth every mile and minute in car.
Here’s why I love this show. It has a very strong theme: “evolution of man” and doesn’t necessarily try and tell a strange story nor make some sort of political statement.Â From the very beginning, the audience is captured, brought in and with each following act, we commit ourselves to the show because we can’t help ourselves.Â Even those who came in with a discerning eye from past Cirque experiences told me during the intermission this was the best they’d witnessed.Â At some other shows, I’ve thought, “This is weird, it’s way too deep or trying to has too many layers, I just want to be entertained.” TOTEM is straightforward pure entertainment.
The set design is incredible, they do a stellar job of incorporated futurist technology seamlessly with video showcasing natural elements like fire, air, water, earth.Â The musicians and vocals are brilliant, beautiful, complementing every movement on stage, yet not overpowering what we are watching.Â There is just the right amount of humor.Â Cirque incorporates humor, but sometimes it seems out of place (like when they are telling a dark story and a clown comes in) or trite.Â TOTEM flawlessly naturally elicits laughter without trying too hard. Perhaps it is because it exudes such a positive delightful energy.
The lighting is gorgeous, sparkling, brilliant, with hues of gold, blues, reds.Â There is complete use of the round stage, the back drop, the air, and the audience (with the clowns and the musicians and some cast members).
The costumes and makeup are jaw dropping.Â No detail on the face, head, hands, legs, torso, even feet is overlooked; every dot, feather, drawing, sparkle, seduces you to stare.
TOTEM’s acts have all of the elements of what I need to find in a Cirque show (OVO had been my favorite until last night): Fascinating, thrilling, sexual, sensuous, fun, daring, nail-biting, executed with perfection.Â But in addition, and what makes this show more special IMHO, is that you can see the cast members’ faces clearly, their expressions are full of concentration, but if you pay attention, you can tell they really love their jobs and their intention is to engage you and bring you into the acts.Â They are clearly having fun and work well together. They ham it up, they want to show off.Â They stop and pose: Applaud me!
The clown acts are hilarious.Â I was laughing out loud, not rolling my eyes.Â There is some “adult-themed” humor, but the kids will crack up anyway because their parents are.Â Also, since the clowns are a major part of the transitions, it’s important for them to make sense, and make sense they do.Â They are smooth and you say, Oh, that’s why they did that and wow, how clever.
I kept thinking our men’s Olympic team needed these guys (albeit most of the gymnasts are Russian, Chinese, and from Belarus). Precision, grace under pressure, pure concentration, muscle control, communication amongst the cast/team member, all while entertaining an audience who is biting their nails, gasping, and clapping.Â It’s unbelievable how perfect each act was, with the exception of Unicycles with Bowls, there were a few dropped bowls opening night, but they repeated until they got it straight.
Clever. Cohesive. Thrilling. Daring. Sexy. That’s my take on TOTEM.
We suggest the VIP Rouge experience where you get front door parking and a private lounge, souvenirs, best seating and more.
The show goes to September 30th, 2012 under the Big Top at the Plateau at National Harbor.
photos used with permission by The Aba Agency
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.