With the enthusiasm of a long distance runner who has reached the finish line, Francis Jalbert exclaims, "We're finally here!"

Each time the blue and yellow tents are raised in a new city, hundreds of traveling performers, crew members, administrative staff, teachers and cooks settle in, forming their own village, this time at the Plateau at National Harbor. Here they will live and work for almost eight weeks while every day they gather under the Grand Chapiteau, or big top, to create the magic that the world has come to expect from Cirque du Soleil.

Tickets, which went on sale back in April, are still available for Cirque's latest production, "Totem," written and directed by Robert Lepage. In 10 unique acrobatic acts, "Totem" explores the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly like the thunderbird resting on top of the totem pole.

"We are very proud to create a show about the evolution of mankind," Jalbert, the show's publicist, remarked. "It's the evolution of the human body and it is also the evolution that each of us goes through during our lives."

Cirque du Soleil: Totem
Where: The Plateau at National Harbor, 201 Harbor View Ave., Oxon Hill
When: August 15 to Sept. 30
Info: cirque-totem.tickets-center.com

Each act in "Totem" is like a journey where different environments are created through the use of multiple video projections.

"The set evolves from a volcano, to a marsh to an ocean," Jalbert continued. "We go back and forth in time and you never know where the next act is going to take you; and so you really feel like you're traveling with us."

And just as the theme of the show explores the realm of evolution, Jalbert points out how each act has evolved from city to city as the acrobats tweak their routines to perfection.

"Michael Jackson [Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson the Immortal World Tour at the Verizon Center last July] was about the man and his music," Jalbert continued. "People sat in concert in an arena. 'Totem' is more about acrobatics. These people are achieving amazing stunts [and] pushing themselves to the limits right in front of you."

Tent seating accommodates 2,600 people per show and is for all ages.

"I think 'Totem' will make you rediscover Cirque du Soleil; you'll be coming from another doorway, close to the action and transported to our world," Jalbert said.