Backstage Pass: Cirque du Soleil’s TOTEM

Friends, I hope y’all had a great weekend. Tamika and I spent the weekend having loads of fun under a tent. A belle saw Cirque du Soleil‘s TOTEM and had the immense pleasure of being invited to a backstage tour!! We are huge fans of Cirque shows, so you know we’re still on cloud 9.

What do you get with 52 performers from 17 countries that range from 16-62 years old? TOTEM!

This magnificent show has acrobatics, dancers, skaters and yes, monkeys! If you’ve ever been to a Cirque show you know what to expect. But if you haven’t, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice. The show is under the big top in Atlantic Station, so if you’ve been meaning to visit Atlanta, you should book a day trip now.

TOTEM is about the devotion to mankind and takes its inspiration from different cultures. The show is all about humans pushing their limits…think about a mad scientist in a cone juggling over a dozen balls, a unicyclist riding a unicycle with one foot while catching balls on her head, and more.

Tamika and I interviewed Greg Kennedy, who plays a juggling mad scientist. Kennedy has been touring with the show since 2010 and travels with his wife and kids. He describes his juggling as a “sense of exchanges within a multiple amount of places.” Kennedy has an engineering background, which helped him with his juggling. When asked what he is up to next, Kennedy told us that he is currently playing around with magnets and squares.

Greg Kennedy doing his thing. Too hot!!

Kennedy’s act is a focal point in TOTEM, and once you see it, you’ll know what I mean. He is inside of a lit cone juggling an insane amount of balls. One word: SPECTACULAR! A belle was giddy with excitement while watching him onstage.

For all our fashion forward peeps, Cirque is on point when it comes to designing the costumes. They have a design team that travels with them on the road, ensuring each show you see is filled with wildly colorful and amazing costumes.

Have a gander at the beautiful costume that is worn by some of the performers.

Some of the costumes are even hand painted  Because of the work the performers put in, the costumes are washed daily and replaced every 6 months. You can’t buy the old costumes on Ebay for your Halloween party though…the costumes are officially retired and collect a pension through corporate events.

Can you believe that 400 people work on costumes for 20 shows? Cirque du Soleil spares nothing when it comes to making a memorable show–live musicians and instruments. This is why we’re forever fans of their productions!

Look at the detail in this beauty. Those are mirrors & real shells people!

Monkey feet
Bananas were made outside of the U.S. for the show and they feel as real as they look!

These masks are made to custom fit each performer. A 3D scan is made of the performer’s head so that it fits perfectly. Check out the performers in action!

From your chair these bushes look VERY real. They are made out of fabric and foam. Neat, right?!

Allow us to leave you with a few fun facts about TOTEM:

  • When we arrived for our interview, it was the 966th time the show was performed.
  • It takes 8 days to put up the TOTEM tent and 10 days to take it down.
  • TOTEM has been on the road for 2 years. It has a 15 year life span.
  • 4 chefs travel with the group and make 250 meals daily.
  • There is a school on site for the performer’s children.
  • Performers can take acting classes, ballet classes, etc.
The sis and I with Francis Jalbert, the PR Director of the show.

TOTEM ends on December 30th, so hurry up and get your tickets!   

Disclosure: The sis and I were provided with tickets to see this magnificent show before this interview/backstage pass. Thanks to all our sweet friends that made this experience possible. Y’all rock!  A belle’s opinions are her own. 

Photo copyright: Carolyn Sloss unless otherwise noted.


Shermika is a writer constantly in search of her next freelance gig and an ending to her short stories. She loves to plan trips, eat tasty delicacies, and tip toe in heels. She enjoys unique jewelry, good music, reading, and chic dresses.

3 thoughts to “Backstage Pass: Cirque du Soleil’s TOTEM”

  1. If ever there was a circus to run away with, this is definitely it. I had no idea that the sheer size and scale of organizing a Cirq shows amounted to this much ingenuity and collaborative efforts. Lucky you guys for getting in inside up close scoop!

    -Shan B.

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