Theatre

Behind the Scenes At Toruk: The First Flight

See the hit sci-fi blockbuster come to life on stage

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I know we all are thinking of the same thing when I bring up Cirque du Soleil: the kaleidoscopic, state-altering world that is created can’t be just a performance – it’s an experience. Cirque is pushing these boundaries even further with their latest show Toruk: The First Flight. Inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, Cirque brings the world of Pandora to life, this time with a new odyssey to tell. When the sacred Tree of Souls faces destruction from a natural disaster, two young Omaticaya boys - Ralu and Entu - must unite the clans of Pandora in order to save the Na’vi and their world.

One could only assume that it takes a team of mythical beings to bring this production into reality - and that is exactly the case. Behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil, it surely isn’t uncommon to find vibrantly colored creatures, costumes and space-jungle props waiting to make their debut. Artists are rehearsing, or in Cirque, throwing and twirling their bodies in the air like anti-gravity beings for what they call the “validations” process. Every element seems to takes on lush Pandoran life except for one thing – the stage. There are a few apparatuses covered in vines and floral décor, but Laura Silverman, the Toruk publicist, says this is entirely on purpose. Unlike any other Cirque du Soleil show before, Toruk: The First Flight uses the art of multimedia projection in order to accurately capture the visually stunning world of Pandora. From volcanic eruptions to flowing rivers, the video effects used sync up with the bodies of the performers, creating an interconnectedness between the Na’vi and the environment that surrounds them.

Of course, there was the most pressing question of all – exactly how long does it take to become a Na’vi? Christian Sánchez, one of the performers, explains that each member of the cast had to go through a 5 week “creation period” in Montreal where Cirque du Soleil is based. Christian explains that the process used to take him two and a half hours, but now it can be as fast as 45 minutes. With a cast that is made up with performers from all over the world, Toruk: The First Flight blends the art of culture and multimedia, all while staying true to the captivating world of Pandora.

Now through June 5. More info and tickets here