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Prequel to Avatar, Cirque du Soleil's "Toruk"

Photo: Errisson Lawrence Costumes: Kym Barrett ©2015 Cirque du Soleil

“Toruk - The First Flight” by Cirque Du Soleil inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar was in Denver from July 21st - July 24th. The event was held at the Pepsi Center. The show supposedly takes place thousands of years before the setting of Avatar.

Toruk is a story about Ralu and Entu on the world of Pandora. I was able to meet and interview Jeremiah Hughes, who plays Ralu in this story. Ralu is a young teenager in the Omaticaya Clan. He goes on an adventure with his friend Entu to try and save the Tree of Souls, which is being threatened by a natural catastrophe. He incorporates strength, acrobatics, choreography, and lots of props to convey his character’s story.

Jeremiah is from Nashville, TN but has lived most of his life in Toronto. He enjoys comic books, sci-fi and video games when not at work. He said that the performers often learn each other's roles. This way if someone gets sick, another performer can take over their role. It takes him up to 1 ½ hours to put his makeup on and 25 minutes to get his suit on! He loves his job. His favorite part about the job is the whole feeling of being part of the show. Before this, he worked in Las Vegas at various shows, and he also worked on a cruise line.

The show was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It was amazing. The special effects were very cool. For example, if they wanted a lava scene, then Boom! The stage turned to lava. If they wanted to show water rushing, then Boom! Lights flowed across the stage and a boat (floating on wheels so smoothly that it really looked like it was floating in water) came across the stage.

My favorite part was the giant puppets that were used to represent the fantasy animals on Pandora. There were Viperwolves, Direhorses, Austrapedes, a Turtapede, Woodsprites, and the Toruk. My favorite puppet was the large Toruk, however the Viperwolves were also amazing. They had luminescent eyes and looked futuristic. Fun fact -- it took 6 people just to operate the Toruk puppet (it had a 40 foot wingspan!).

They used lights and lighting in many ways. Specifically the way that they incorporated lights from the audience cell phones into the show was unique. You download and open the Toruk app, and during the show the app took over the cell phones and made them light up in different colors. The cell phone lights, combined with the lights on stage in the props, created a surreal experience.

I would not recommend this show for kids with sensitive ears, but I do highly recommend it!!!
 

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