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Cirque du Soleil to evolve on Columbus stage with ‘Totem’

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Cirque du Soleil's "Totem" is slated to open Aug. 22 at the Ohio Expo Center and run through Sept. 15.

Cirque du Soleil’s “Totem” is slated to open Aug. 22 at the Ohio Expo Center and run through Sept. 15. Credit: Courtesy of Cirque du Soleil

Cirque du Soleil sets stage in Columbus once again to reenact the evolution of humanity.

The Quebec-based company, known for its artistic and imaginative acrobatic feats, opens its blue and yellow tent 8 p.m. Thursday to present “Totem” to Columbus audiences. The show, which began touring in April 2010, will mark its 21st city once it opens at the Ohio Expo Center.

The last Cirque du Soleil show to perform in Columbus was“Quidam” in December 2012.

“Totem” centralizes itself around the theme of human evolution, spanning from the amphibian state to man’s desire to explore the outer galaxies. The show’s director, Robert Lepage, drew inspiration for the show from his interest in where humanity comes from and where it is going, “Totem” publicist Francis Jalbert said.

“This is what sets us apart from any other specie is the fact that we always try to improve our situation but also to improve ourselves and to reach higher and higher, and our acrobatics showcase that,” Jalbert said.

“Totem” will act out the progression of man in ways akin to the Cirque du Soleil franchise. However, “Totem’s” acts will be unique in comparison to Cirque’s other 19 current shows nationwide, Jalbert said.

One of the acts, Jalbert said, features five Chinese women riding 7-feet tall unicycles as they kick solid bowls between each other’s heads. The final act of “Totem,” called “Russian bars,” exhibits 10 men holding a 10-foot pole that tosses “fliers,” or actors, 40 feet in the air as they perform acrobatic stunts.

Playing behind “Totem’s” stunts is music barring a distinct spoken language.

One of the singers of Canadian descent adapts many of his lyrics from the Wendake tribe located near Quebec, the singer’s heritage. Singing in his mother tongue narrates a part of the show that illustrates man’s nativity to certain lands, Jalbert said. The dialect of the lyrics for the rest of the show, however, is completely made up by the show’s creators.

“What makes Cirque du Soleil so famous around the world is, you know there is no spoken language in the show,”Jalbert said. “Everyone can have their own interpretation of what (the singers) sing, so you are giving the crayons to the audience to draw their own interpretation.”

Although the language spoken throughout “Totem” is not native to any part of the world, the cast of 46 acrobats and performers gather from 15 different countries and speak 11 different languages, Jalbert explained.

“I think for the audience, it’s interesting as well to see these people come from all over the world, to gather together and with the same goal of making people dream,” Jalbert said.

“Totem” opens Aug. 22 at the Ohio Expo Center and will run until Sept. 15. Show times vary per day, and ticket prices vary per seat.

Tickets can be purchased on “Totem’s” website.

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