As if Cirque du Soleil weren’t dazzling enough in its own right, cinema fans are doubly treated with its new “TORUK – The First Flight”. Based on James Cameron’s sensational “Avatar,” “TORUK” brings us into Pandora once more (and slakes the thirst of die-hard fans until the sequels finally arrive!).
Unlike Cirque’s previous productions, “TORUK” breaks with tradition and follows a formal narrative structure. Rather than the essentially self-contained artistic performances connected by an inspirational thread (such as last year’s “Amaluna”, sparked by concepts from Shakepeare’s “The Tempest”), “TORUK” brings us the cohesive story set millennia prior to the events of “Avatar”. Here we join the heroic journey of three Na’vi characters on the cusp of adulthood: Ralu and his adoptive younger brother Entu, both of the Omaticaya Clan, and Tsyal, of the Tawkami Clan.
As the three pursue a quest to save Pandora from a natural catastrophe, we accompany them through its many regions, which are rendered with extraordinary artistry. The environment changes so constantly and with such elegance that as soon as the eye returns from having looked away for but a moment, the original location has completely transformed. The feature that wasn’t there suddenly is, and is replaced just as seamlessly by the next, creating the feeling not of a set transition, but of a magic show. Light itself creates raging torrents, jungle lushness, far distant horizons, and flowing rivers of water and lava, while nearly invisible puppeteers bring Pandora’s fierce wildlife into being.
Narrative or not, however, this is Cirque du Soleil, and TORUK seeks not to present a woven structure comprised of plot twists, but instead a gestalt experience of Pandora and the culture of the Na’vi clans. Every element present in “Avatar” appears in thrilling remembrance, but stays our focus on the journey and its spirit. (Have no doubt, however: there is plenty of dramatic tension – three occasions gave me chills, and one moved me to tears.).
An unusual testament to the enlivening spirit of “TORUK” actually revealed itself upon exiting the performance, by this time close to 10:30pm. Amid the hundreds of attendees, many long-queued at the merchandise counter, were a fair number of true youngsters. From the preverbal sweetheart nestled comfortably on his mother’s hip to the 7-year old in full festive attire of velvet dress and hair ribbons, they were calm, alert, and engaged. After four hours of lines, crowds, waiting, and sitting still, tots this age should rightly be overtired and fussy to say the least. But quite the opposite was true; every single one was bright-eyed, relaxed, and completely at peace.
Because “TORUK” is staged at the Toyota Center rather than under its own Grand Chapiteau installation, its Houston engagement is fleeting and concludes on Sunday, February 14, 2016. Tickets for Houston are still available as of this writing, and those outside Houston can find upcoming tour dates here. Additionally, “TORUK” has just been captured for DVD and is currently in editing; details for purchase will be posted at the Cirque online boutique, Amazon, and the other usual channels when it becomes available.
Now let’s take a peek at “TORUK – The First Flight”!
A Glimpse into TORUK
Step into the Pandoran world of the Na’vi clans as brought to life by “TORUK – The First Flight”.
Find TORUK Online:
Official Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Tumblr | Google+
TORUK Co-creators Victor Pilon and Michel Lemieux
Meet the driving creative force behind TORUK, co-writer/directors Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. Hear the impressions of these renowned multimedia innovators and their vision for brining Pandora to life in their fourth collaboration with Cirque du Soleil.
Two Heads are Better than One
Of course no single person can perform in every show of a tour, and the performance of a single character by two artists offers unique opportunities to create a sum larger than its parts. Meet the pairs who portray our three leads, and hear their interesting takes on the creative process.
Make every effort to catch “TORUK – The First Flight” whether on tour or on DVD. Here are those quick links again – enjoy!
- Houston Ticket Information (through 2/14/2015)
- Additional Tour Dates
- Official Site
- And here’s “Avatar” just for good measure and to whet the appetite!