A backstage tour of ‘Toruk: The First Flight’

Photos by Ina Jacobe

Toruk: The First Flight is a Cirque du Soleil production inspired by James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar. Imagine a mix of theater production, circus show, and a Hollywood film all rolled into one multimedia spectacle. That’s a lot, and if you’re anything like us, you’re probably wondering —  how exactly does Cirque du Soleil do it?

A day before the Asian premiere in Manila, Young STAR went on a backstage tour of Toruk: The First Flight. With so many things going on for tech, prod, and performers, you’d think that it’d be a jungle back there. But everything was organized. They have labels and signs for everything and rehearsals started on time. We got to check out the costume and props department, as well as the areas where the performers train. (Yup, their stretches are as intense as you imagine them to be.) We also got to see them rehearse on stage sans the costumes and lights.

No spoilers here, but we’ll let you in on a some secrets… well, sort of.

3: Toruk: The First Flight is Cirque du Soleil’s third show in Manila

The famous production company first flew to Manila in 2011 for Varekai, and came back with Saltimbanco in 2012. After five years, they’re back with Toruk: The First Flight. What makes this show different from other Cirque du Soleil productions is its focus on storytelling. While the stunts are nothing short of amazing, the acrobatics still feel organic to the creatures of Pandora. The performers even speak (and sing!) in the Na’vi language, which makes the whole thing even more immersive. Publicist Janie Mallet even confirmed that Cirque collaborated with James Cameron while developing Toruk, so it’s no wonder why everything came together so seamlessly.

27: The number of semitrailer trucks needed to transport all of the props and equipment

The story of Toruk: The First Flight sets up the world of Pandora at a time before Avatar. We get to meet the other Na’vi tribes that exist in Pandora. Just imagine all the costumes, props, and makeup that are needed to transform everyone. Let’s not forget about the crew and technicians and their equipment. Despite having a lot of things to unload, the production keeps a pretty tight schedule and finishes set up in just 12 hours.

40: The number of projectors used to recreate Pandora

How does one transform the Mall of Asia Arena into the world of Pandora? Technology, of course. Curated visuals are projected all over the arena to put focus on the characters and the setting as well. Earthquake? Streaming river? Flowing lava? No problem. The props and the smart design of the multi-functional stage are super cool too. And if you download the Toruk app on the App Store, you might even get to be part of the show. (Trust us, the FOMO is real.)

6: Puppeteers who bring all the inanimate creatures to life

Yup, just six trained puppeteers. It’s one thing to perform on stage, but it requires a different set of skills to be able to make objects come to life. And we’re talking about creatures like the viperwolves and even a 40 ft. bird (the eponymous Toruk) here, which requires all six puppeteers to operate. Did we mention this is the first Cirque du Soleil production that involves this many puppeteers?

10: The number of shows they’ll be having in Manila

The production has a short run from June 23 – July 2, so you really wouldn’t want to miss them this time. Third time’s the charm?

Tickets are available at all SM ticket outlets or www.smtickets.com


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