Cirque du Soleil

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Cirque du Soleil

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t marveled at the delights of Cirque du Soleil at least once. We at Forte sure have, and so we chased down Neelanthi Vadivel, former performer and now the Artistic Director, to have a little chat about new production, Totem.
Hi Neelanthi, how are you and what are you up to at the moment? 
I’m doing very well, thanks for asking! I am busy preparing the end of the Sydney run of Totem and revving things up for our premiere in Melbourne.
It’s pretty incredible reading about your jump up the rungs with Cirque du Soleil. Was it a great moment for you being able to go from performer to Artistic Director?
Cirque made my transition organic and welcoming. I remember feeling very excited to get my hands into the planning, training and creativity that the AD role affords.
Was that a role you aspired to from the early days of your career? 
I was a very bossy child! Directing and choreographing on my fellow students was something I was always involved in and enjoyed from early on.
You’re doing that role for the most recent show, Totem. Can you give us a little rundown of what audience members can expect from the show?
A visual feast, as created by the great Robert Lepage. Totem is a non-chronological journey through the various stages of man’s evolution … Whimsical, romantic and always exciting.
And where did the idea for Totem originate? 
Robert was first drawn to the potential that an acrobat presented to represent the various physical stages of man’s evolution from swamp creature to cosmonaut.
From the first nations of the world, creation myths and stories draw many meanings for the animals that share our planet and the totemic importance they have.
Given that the show explores a few different animals, if you could be any animal in the world what would you be and why? 
I am a cat and love Australia for the many sun spots I can find to laze in!
There are quite a few really technical acts within the show. How did the rehearsal and training process go? 
As any CDS show, Totem took two years of production to reach premiere – though many of the acts in the show are invited acts and the artists developed the stunning numbers over many years.
It seems with each Cirque du Soleil show they raise the bar. How has Totem developed from previous shows? 
Totem differs in its representation of native culture as well as with the lush projections used to inhabit every scene.
Given that you were a performer previously, do you ever get the urge to jump on stage and do the acts with the rest of the crew? 
The music on Totem gets everyone’s feet tapping, but I won’t be joining the artists on stage any time soon! I have well and truly retired 😉
Thanks again for chatting with us. Is there anything you’d like to add before we finish up? 
Don’t miss the show! We are waiting for you.
When&Where: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne – Opens January 21
Photo by OSA Images