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Natural History Museum Comes To Life

The San Diego Natural History Museum came to life yesterday when a prehistoric man encountered an ape and a human-sized tree frog. The breathtaking acrobatics are part of Cirque du Soleil's new show "Totem" that traces the evolution of man.

The performers thrilled some museumgoers like 10-year-old Jake Flegler and his eight-year-old sister Lilly, visiting from Tulsa, Okla.

"It's fun. You get to see a lot of animals. Frogs, I like frogs," Jake said.

"Monkeys. I like monkeys because he was kind of pointing at me and being funny," Lilly added.

Tim Smith is artistic director for "Totem." He said the two things people always walk away saying are "I've never seen anything like that before" and "Where do you find those people?"

"We develop acts ourselves, with certain skill sets that are brought to our table that we then create and mold ourselves. We also go into cultures and find things that have been done for years that the world doesn't even know. We also collaborate with them and bring these images to the stage," he said.

Francis Jalbert is the show's publicist. He said some of the performers are artists who sing, dance and act. Others are acrobats from circus schools.

"Fifty percent of our performers come from a sports background. We invite them to Montreal at circus headquarters and transform them into artists. So they will learn how to play with the crowd, they will learn different circus disciplines to be able to be on a Cirque du Soleil stage,” he said.

The show goes on under the yellow and blue "Le Grand Chapiteau," or Big Top, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds beginning April 25.

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