On Tour With Totem – Sochi, Russia

[Disclaimer: opinions on my own. In no way does this have any association with companies mentioned or groups involved.]

The run in Sochi, Russia, is over. Totem premiered at the Bolshoy Ice Dome (one of the Olympic arenas from the 2014 Winter Olympics) on July 1st. The crew worked tirelessly to transform the rink into what the rest of us could recognize as the stage and backstage areas.

Here’s what the space looked like when they arrived:


Huge thanks to the team. I can’t imagine what a project this was. Not only the actual set-up, but all of the planning that was required (starting back in Japan), to figure-out the logistics of moving the show into an arena, on top of ice nonetheless.

Most of the artists arrived in Russia in the later-half of June. We stopped for a few days in Moscow to pick up work visas, so I had a chance to check out the beautiful city. The Red Square is as spectacular as you’d expect it to be. I wished I had more time to visit the Kremlin and the historic museums and other areas of Moscow  (So I extended my stay for two days -I’m writing from the most adorably decorated house i’ve ever been, in a residential area of Moscow).

We all flew to Sochi after picking up our work permits.

Sochi is like a resort-destination for most of the country. Located on the coast of the Black Sea, it’s the perfect spot for a summer getaway. The sun shines bright every day, children laugh and play by the pool… life is good.

Working above ice comes with its difficulties. For one, ice melts. As the days go on, water creeps up, resulting in a damp floor all around the arena. The first few days were tough, adjusting to the new environment and working in unknown territory. The backstage was also just the other half of the arena, so it was dark most of the time.

Lots of complaints were thrown around, but solutions were made, and adaptations created to assure the show could go on.

The run was short, one week of trainings and four weeks of shows.

It was my first (and only) full city alone with the rings trio – female role. I thought it would be hard, and it was in some ways, but I managed to fall into a rhythm that made things manageable. Or, my mind had mentally blocked out any pain and ailments because there was no other option.

Regardless, it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the consistency of arriving every day at work and knowing what I’d be doing. I’m proud to say that I performed in each in every show during the Sochi run.

At one point I wore all of my cue costumes too. Fish, Spanish lady, world tribe, and even butterfly (trapeze) for the first time.

We had evening shows in Sochi, totally different from the day-shows that I’d gotten so used to in Japan. It meant a lot more free time (although most of it was filled with working on these blog posts). I made good use of the darks, traveling to the mountains and hiking, a little horseback riding.


It was an interesting city. Unexpected connections, surprising introspection, and a sort-of-shift in ways of thought and self-talk. I wish I had more time with people.

Sochi was also the first time where it hit me, my time with Totem is almost over.

I’m not really ready to process that yet.


A short-lived cameo in the band kept me busy during intermission. (As did the mini-concert of the Game of Thrones title song before every toreador).

^and I got pretty tan.

That was it for Sochi, it was a short and strong run, with lots to celebrate at the end of the five weeks.

More goodbyes and a couple see-you-laters, the cast scattered to our various corners of the world for another stint of r&r before picking up for the European leg starting in Brussels, Belgium.

I have a couple dozen hours left in Moscow before making my way to the states.

Peace out, Russia.

30/31 #YearOfChallenge


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