Events go big with Ghengis Khan, Cirque du Soleil

From a Cirque du Soleil show where humanity evolves out of the primordial ooze to a sidewalk celebration of cutting-edge public art, from an exhibit that tries to get a lasso around the legend of Genghis Khan to a cowboy festival where the lassos are literal, fall cultural events will span centuries and cover vast geography.

  • Since its 2010 world premiere in Montreal, critics have largely gone ape over Cirque du Soleil's evolution-themed big-top show "Totem," (Oct. 26-Dec. 2,, which rolls into Atlantic Station for a run.

Commanding a stage that evokes a giant turtle, the flashy, acrobatics-heavy circus depicts humanity’s journey from its amphibian state to man’s attempts to take wing.

Reviewing the Cirque franchise’s 28th show at its current stop in the nation’s capital, the Washington Post noted, “It’s clear that as Cirque du Soleil evolves, production values only continue to rise. The bodily skills in ‘Totem’ are amazing, but so is the technology, allowing performers to sync their movements with the music, lighting and photographic projections.”

  • Flux 2012 (Oct. 6, in downtown Atlanta's Castleberry Hill district, will feature an up-to-the-moment array of 14 temporary public art works: sound and light installations, projections, dance, performance art, music and other audience-provoking interactions.

The 14 presentations include “Aphidoidea, Sound Cloud Forest,” an installation by a Los Angeles collective that will produce sounds and colors when touched by the audience; former Atlantan Amber Boardman’s “Prelude Two,” a video installation that takes viewers through a small apartment to watch an incoming tsunami, set to Wagner’s “Die Walküre Prelude”; and choreographer Nicole Livieratos’ “Turn the Page,” six works commenting on American energy consumption.

  • Fernbank Museum of Natural History will celebrate its 20th anniversary with the exhibition "Genghis Khan" (Oct. 5-Jan. 21, chronicling the Mongolian conqueror's rise to power and assessing his enduring mark on the modern world.

The show is billed as the largest touring collection of 13th century Mongolian artifacts ever assembled. The more than 200 relics include gold jewelry, ceramics, coins, armor, weaponry, silk robes, costumes, religious pieces and a mummy.

Khan came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia, and his Mongol Empire spanned more than 11 million square miles across Eastern Europe and Asia. The exhibit considers his innovations such as the opening of trade across Asia, his encouragement of education and meritocracy, but also the brutality of his warrior forces.

  • If you missed Natasha Thethewey's recent Decatur Book Festival keynote address, there is another opportunity to hear the U.S. Poet Laureate appointee who assumes her national role in a Washington ceremony on Thursday.

Gwinnett County Public Library will present the Emory University creative writing professor as keynote speaker for Fall Into the Arts 2012 (Oct. 7,, an annual free celebration of literary, performing and visual arts at the Georgia Gwinnett College Student Center.

  • It will take a lot of giddyup to get the most out of the 10th annual Southeastern Cowboy Festival and Symposium (Oct. 25-28, at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville.

Two major exhibits open — “National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West” and “Family Traditions: The Art of Bill, John & Terri Kelly Moyers — and cowboy singer Roy Rogers Jr. plays two concerts. Then there’s the family-friendly Cowboy Festival over the weekend, with Gunfight at the O.K. Corral re-enactments, Native American dancing, a Western marketplace and more.