Cirque du Soleil in Ottawa: TOTEM

by DaniGirl on July 13, 2013 · 0 comments

in Ottawa Family Fun

Before this week, I had never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, although my parents are fans who never miss the show when it comes to Ottawa. I have always liked the idea and appreciated the beauty of the performances, but I have never sought out my own tickets. All I knew about Cirque was that it was a circus without animals, a mix of dance, performance art and circus-style tricks like juggling and trapeze work. And I knew that people who had seen it were crazy for it – I’ve never met anyone who shrugged indifferently about a Cirque show. So when a pair of complimentary tickets to the premiere of the latest touring show, TOTEM, showed up in my inbox recently, I was delighted to attend the show with Beloved as a late anniversary date night.

I think because the show was at Scotiaba–ern, Canadian Tire centre, or whatever they’re calling it today, I was imagining an arena-sized show in my head, but inside the tent, the atmosphere is incredibly intimate and cozy. (Tip, bring a sweater! It was warm and humid outside but I was huddled into Beloved for warmth though a lot of the show.) There is not a bad seat in the house. We were lucky though to be about eight rows from the stage, but the furthest seat can’t be more than 30 or so rows from the stage.

From the pre-show clowns playing with the audience to the final bows of the cast, I was entranced. It’s a delightful, uplifting, engaging show. I knew from hearing about the show that it was a showcase of dance and athleticism, and we expected (but were still amazed by) acts like these dancers on a trapeze.

(The photo above and all that follow are from the Cirque site – no photos allowed during performances.)

I don’t know if I have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to explain how amazed and delighted we were by each act. There were no slow spots, no bad acts, nothing that felt like filler. Every time you think that you’ve just seen the most amazing thing possible, they do something even more amazing. Beloved was most impressed by these artists who spun large square tapestries on their fingers and eventually their toes, too. And then they started juggling them. Wow!

For me, the most breathtaking act was a unicycle act. Riding a unicycle is impressive, right? Imagine a unicycle on a stilt so the seat is six or seven feet off the ground. And imagine it synchronized with six other riders. And imagine balancing on that unicycle while holding still. And then, for kicks, imagine balancing a bowl on the toe of one of your feet (while still on the unicycle on stilts, mind) and flinging it up so it lands perfectly balanced on your head. And now imagine all THAT syncronized across all the performers with silver bowls flying and landing on heads and unicycles circling and swirling — wow wow wow WOW!!!

I mean seriously, I can’t even catch a BALL when you throw it at me. How do you even come up with an idea like that, let alone actually execute it?


Cirque du Soleil is an amazing experience. Now I know why people rave about it, and I will be sure to bring the boys to see it some day. This is a family-friendly show that I think kids of all ages would enjoy. It’s the kind of show that leaves you feeling warm and delighted, full of astonishment at what the human animal is capable of. I spent the whole evening with my mouth hanging open in astonishment, gasping and cheering and laughing, and only cringing during one incredible act on roller skates when I could barely watch for fear of the safety of the participants. Of course they had everything under control. Sometimes the mom in me is a little too close to the surface!

Anyway, if you get the chance, although it seems a little pricey for a family outing, I’d highly recommend this show. It’s playing here through August 4 and you can get more ticket information on the Cirque du Soleil Totem site.

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