Cirque du Soleil TOTEM – Behind the Scenes

My family and I have attended 11 different Cirque du Soleil shows – starting with Saltimbanco in 1993. You may say we’re a bit obsessed. We were unable to attend the backstage tour of TOTEM, but did the next best thing and sent talented photographer Sebastian Marin to document the extraordinary world

The astonishing 2700 lb frame on stage signifies the skeletal structure of a huge turtle shell and represents the origins of life on earth. It is an omnipresent symbol in the TOTEM environment

This colorful costume was worn by one of the Russian Bar acrobats. It was partly inspired by the lost civilizations of South America. During this act, the performers are thrown up in the air and leap from bar to bar in an exceptionally weightless form – a metaphor for humans trying to escape Earth’s gravity

Planet earth in gorgeous blue splendor and a marsh lined with reeds near the main body of “water” around which all life develops

One of the most surprising facts we learned about Cirque Du Soleil is that there are no make-up artists! Actually, there are dozens of make-up artists since each performer must do his/her own make up. They learn all the details from this giant book below!

Each strand of hair of this ape mask and costume is manually attached

A few of the head adornments used during the show, all made from fresh produce and flowers

What may have been my favorite part of the show: The scientist in his neon-colored “laboratory” re-purposed as a glass flask orchestra. He represents reason and the human quest to understand the universe

The closet of hand-made costumes and drawers with fabrics and sewing kits for repairs

The beautiful and inspiring story in TOTEM follows the evolution of humans from the prehistoric amphibian state, through primates, early human civilizations, and finally modern humans and our desire for exploration, discovery, and super-human feats.

It is gramatically redundant to use the words magical and Cirque du Soleil in the same sentence – but I can’t think of a more accurate descriptive term. It’s like no circus you have ever visited because it transcends performance and entertainment into something magical and inspiring. TOTEM was one of my family’s favorite performances and you can get a little glimpse into why through these gorgeous photos. Go see it – you won’t regret it.

TOTEM is at the Plateau at National Harbor until Oct 7.

Thanks to Sebastian Marin for taking all these beautiful photos!

  • Sebastian Marin

    The pictures look great on the site!!! Thank you guys for inviting me and I personally recommend this show to everyone, it is completely worth it!

    • TPWP

      They do! We couldn’t have chosen a better photographer to go. Thanks!

  • Daniela T

    This is amazing, I didn’t realize they did their own make up. I am also a big big fan of cirque du soleil, thanks for posting this!

    • TPWP

      It really was our pleasure. We are huge fans as well!