Totemly proud of hoops
TRADITIONAL Native American hoop dancing has shaped many of Eric Hernandez’s big life decisions.
Not only did it direct him to university on a scholarship where he taught hoop dancing to other Native American students, but it caught the attention of Cirque du Soleil creatives while he toured his home state of Utah.
He was invited to join the cast of their production Totem in 2011, which will open under the iconic blue and yellow grand chapiteau at Belmont Racecourse on July 31.
“At that stage I didn’t know much about Cirque du Soleil,” Hernandez said during a whirlwind Perth visit last week.
“Then I researched it and saw how big it was and how great an opportunity it was.
“My dad didn’t even hesitate and told me to do it, but my mum’s a school teacher and I had to leave school to do it, so you can see her hesitation.
“Now they’re really proud of me that I’m able to share the culture worldwide.”
Hernandez has more than made up for his lack of Cirque du Soleil knowledge, having seen seven of the Quebec-based company’s shows, and said he loved Totem for its music and intimacy.
“You’re watching the show with maybe one or two people on stage and you really feel their emotions,” he said.
“Totem has a lot more solos than other Cirque shows and a lot of the cast are presenting a performance from their culture.”
Totem artistic director Neelanthi Vadivel said the show explored the theme of evolution, not in a chronological or linear way, but more snapshots and vignettes of beautiful moments.
“Writer and director Robert Lepage wanted to evoke different highlights and moments in human evolution,” Vadivel said.
“Cultural traditions are explored, like a marriage ceremony or harvest, which are also parts of the fabric of humanity and how we represent ourselves through the ages.
“It’s very joyful and very soulful. It’s what a Cirque production is meant to be: an experience and not just a show.
“You want to be immersed in it.”
Native American traditional hoop dancer Eric Hernandez.