Totemly proud of hoops

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life - TANYA MACNAUGHTON

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.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d440418

Na­tive Amer­i­can tra­di­tional hoop dancer Eric Her­nan­dez.

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