CirqueClub /// “Holiday on Tour with Totem Publicist”

Ever wondered what it’s like to be on tour with Cirque du Soleil? TOTEM publicist Francis Jalbert chronicles his experiences in a Q&A and adds his special insights on spending the holidays away from home.

What is life on tour like? Advantages? Challenges? What do you like the most?

Touring with TOTEM so far has been the most amazing experience of my life on many levels. It is a cultural and human experience like no other, as I travel around the world with a group of 120 people who come from 20 different countries and range from 18 to 57 years old. This group is the only stability I have in my life, as I move from hotel rooms to corporate apartments and from one community to the next. The artists, technicians and employees I work and travel with have become my family.

Joining tour is an adjustment, as you learn to live with separation from your friends and family and find your place in a new group of people who have completely different cultural backgrounds than yours. Through your integration, you learn so much about yourself and others and your vision of the world opens up; it seems that there are no boundaries anymore, that the world truly is a playground as you travel around and now have friends from the 4 corners of the planet.

For me, this opportunity is an amazing professional challenge attached to a lifestyle that I totally embrace. I love the family feeling of the tour and feeling that I contribute in making 2,600 audience members dream every night in the Big Top. I love the environment, working with artists that always want to push forward their limits and share all their passion with the crowds; it is very inspiring and motivating. I get to see the world and never fall into a routine.

Touring life is intense and comes with ups and downs that are increased by the non-conventional lifestyle we live. It can be tough sometimes dealing with the absence of stability, the close proximity with friends and co-workers, the absence of separation between work and personal life and the disconnection from your social circle back home. In the end, I can guarantee that the positive elements upstage the challenges.

I truly believe I am lucky and have one of the best jobs in the world, promoting an incredible production and traveling around with genuine inspiring people, it makes me grow and evolve at a speed I would have never thought possible.

How do you feel about celebrating the holidays on tour?

Holidays on tour are bittersweet for me. I am very happy to celebrate this special season with my touring family, although I miss being with my parents, extended family and friends in Montreal. I can guarantee that I will be using Skype a lot between December 24 and January 1st. Mailing gifts is not as fun as being able to share those moments with your loved ones. The tour management is great in trying to make us feel home by organizing holiday celebrations and spreading the holiday joy. I will still be filled by the excitement the holiday season brings!

You are originally from Canada. This year you will be celebrating the holidays in California. How will it be different for you?

It will be my first holiday season on the beach! For me, it is unreal to celebrate Christmas without snow and spending a few days on the ski hills. I am looking forward to seeing how people celebrate over here and be able to wear fewer layers on my way to the Christmas party! We have some Californians on tour and I hope I will get to try some of the local traditions.

The cast and crew of TOTEM come from 20 different countries. What is it like to celebrate the holidays in a multicultural environment?

It is a great opportunity to learn about each other’s cultural traditions and exchange fond memories. It seems that everybody gets closer as the holidays approach. Also, when we are in cities where some cast and crew members have relatives, we get to see how locals celebrate and take part in their get-togethers.

What are the traditions from your country (Canada) that you bring with you on tour?

Good question! This year I would like to organize a gift exchange challenge as I used to do back home and I’m hoping to decorate my hotel room with ornaments and a small Christmas tree.

How do you say “Happy Holidays” in French?

Joyeuse Fêtes!

{ SOURCE: Cirque du Soleil | }