‘Toruk: The First Flight’ takes audience on journey of a lifetime

Cirque du Soleil’s newest production previews in Worcester before Dec. 21 world premiere; show inspired by James Cameron's 'Avatar'

A+closeup+of+the+intricate+makeup+and+design+worn+by+the+performers+in+Cirque+du+Soleil%27s+new+production%2C+%22Toruk%3A+The+First+Flight.%22
A closeup of the intricate makeup and design worn by the performers in Cirque du Soleil's new production,

A closeup of the intricate makeup and design worn by the performers in Cirque du Soleil's new production, "Toruk: The First Flight."

Raider Times photo / Youssef Shoufan/Groupe Cirque du Soleil

Raider Times photo / Youssef Shoufan/Groupe Cirque du Soleil

A closeup of the intricate makeup and design worn by the performers in Cirque du Soleil's new production, "Toruk: The First Flight."

Dominika Bondaryk, Raider Times staff

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Cirque du Soleil’s most recent creation, “Toruk: The First Flight,” inspired by James Cameron’s “Avatar”, captures the eyes of the audience with incredible visuals, puppetry, costumes, and a story that digs deep into the world of imagination. 

The new touring show had its first preview at the DCU Center in Worcester on Friday, Dec. 11, and will have its world premiere on Dec. 21 in Montreal. “Toruk: The First Flight” it not like an expected circus with silly sound effects, upbeat music, clowns, tigers jumping through hoops, and gymnasts on tightropes. Unlike a regular circus, Cirque du Soleil adds its own twist with lyrical dancing, twists, turns, elegant instrumentals and songs sung by the performers, all attached to a plot — similar to watching a prestigious play.

It is a tale that is set thousands of years before the events in the film that shows life on Pandora before humans discovered there was such a place. 

     Directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon make sure to illustrate the Na’vi’s belief in there being a connection among all living things with this continued metaphor. The performers, speaking in Na’vi language, link their dialogue to their actions using microphones, as a Na’vi storyteller translates the events. Cirque du Soleil pushes aside a typical and entertaining performance and puts on an eye-opening, enchanting, and out-of-this-world story.  

Cirque du Soleil director Michel Lemieux (left) has a close-up view of the intricate makeup and design worn by the performers in the new production, "Toruk: The First Flight."

Raider Times photo / Youssef Shoufan/Groupe Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil director Michel Lemieux (left) has a close-up view of the intricate makeup and design worn by the performers in the new production, “Toruk: The First Flight.”

    When the Omaticaya clan discovers that the Tree of Souls is in danger, the protagonists — two native Na’vi brothers, Ralu and Entu — decide to go on a dangerous task in search of Toruk, their only hope. 

    Through the performance, Ralu and Entu venture to four other clans: Tawkami, Anurai, Tipani, and Kekunan. Each clan becomes a different atmosphere with varied tools, music, and acrobats.

    Tsyal, the daughter of the village chief of the Tawkami clan, disobeys her father as she accompanies the brothers. Her bright and spirited personality emphasizes the personas of Ralu and Entu as the bond between the three of them grows. 

    Through each event change, lighting, music, and puppetry guide the audience through Pandora. Up to 16 puppets are depicted by performers to display the creatures and objects of Pandora as they become flowers, viperwolves, direhorses, swarms of woodsprites, and more. 

    With the help of technology and the majestic image of the Na’vi people, Cirque du Soleil’s strong reputation of putting on a classical, complex, and incredible production continues to reign on. Although the story captivates the mind and hearts of the audience, the visuals are what captures the eye. With more than 100 costumes, incredibly detailed makeup, beautiful designs, and symmetrical visuals, “Toruk: The First Flight” is definitely one of a kind.

    Varied in levels, props, cinematic effects, and the sparkling Tree of Souls covered in lights, the world of Pandora comes to life. Completely divergent and charming, the story of Ralu and Entu finding Toruk and saving the Tree of Souls is inspiring, heart-clenching, and powerful. Relationships among the characters, dramatic acrobatics, and intensified acting makes the viewer feel as if they are in the show themselves.

    The idea of stepping into a supernatural world of imagination and creativity is rare and difficult to capture, but Cirque du Soleil’s inventive production inspired by “Avatar” seizes it audience with this mystical story and takes everyone on a journey of a lifetime.

–Dec. 12, 2015–

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