- March 15, 2015
- Posted by Claire Goldsworthy
- No comments
Melbourne has long awaited the return of Cirque Du Soleil’s trademark blue and yellow big top tents, and until the 29th of March at Flemington Racecourse, you can catch the latest instalment of the global phenomenon, TOTEM: A Fascinating Journey Into The Evolution Of Mankind.
TOTEM: A Fascinating Journey Into The Evolution Of Mankind is just as its name suggests – a story of evolution, a translation of myths, traditions and rituals that translate a connection between science and legend.
Written and directed by famed multidisciplinary artist, Robert Lepage, TOTEM is a sensory smorgasbord far beyond your average stage production. I sat completely in awe for most of the night, moving only my eyes around the stage as I was transported through time into each scene. TOTEM is pieced together with the use of incredible visual effects and a mechanical stage, complimented by the sounds of a full onstage orchestra and completed with mesmerizing costumery that could have been on a catwalk – I was impressed, to say the least.
The opening scene set the standard for the costumes to come: as the crowd fell silent and lifted their heads to the ceiling, ‘The Crystal Man’ slowly descended, suspended on a fine wire as he twisted and twirled, flickering and glistening from head to toe in a velvet leotard covered with 4500 reflective mirrors and crystals. Then, fish and frog characters took to the stage, swinging and looping on a frame that resembles a turtle shell, snaking and curling around each other, painted in patterns and colours that mimic that of the most poisonous frog in the Amazon jungle.
It wasn’t until we were invited backstage that I realized just how much work goes into the wardrobe for each Cirque Du Soleil production, and it is a process that is quickly becoming its own kind of couture. Each costume is custom made for the acrobat who wears it – sized, measured, altered and perfectly fitted to ensure that nothing slips out of place on stage. Hundreds of thread spools, thousands of diamantes, and millions of beads travel with the show wherever it goes, and an entire team of costume ateliers are on hand to mend, replace or remake each outfit if need be.
And it’s nowhere near as simple as a Lycra leotard with a few added details – costume designer Kym Barrett has mastered the use of certain textiles and features to bring to life her vision for each character. Neon-bright colours, vivid, shining fabrics, advanced printing techniques, fluorescent pigments, mirror fragments and hundreds of crystals illustrate Kym’s vision for her characters.
Drawers and drawers of MAC cosmetics, false eye lashes, waterproof mascara, shimmer dust and eye shadow in every colour of the rainbow are on hand in the wardrobe department and stocked in excess, to make sure that every line and every drawn-on characterization is in the perfect place for every show. Each artist sits through a process that can take up to 9 hours to layer on effects, contour the lines in their make up, shape their artificial brows or create their fascinating look before they can step into their complete character. And every time they step onto the stage, each artist becomes a part of the bigger picture, an imaginative story that tells a tale of humanity, and every artist reflects the very essence of it.
Make the time to see TOTEM before it leaves Melbourne at the end of March, you won’t be disappointed! Purchase your tickets here.
The Fashion Advocate x
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