Upcoming: Cirque du Soleil: Toruk – The First Flight

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I have to admit, I wasn’t really a fan of James Cameron’s Avatar, and I’m not particularly interested in the three sequels he’s currently working on. But I am absolutely interested in what he’s doing with the franchise off the big screen.

What I’ve seen of Pandora: The World of Avatar, the incredibly immersive land coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2017, looks astounding. And as a huge fan of Cirque du Soleil, I’m thrilled to see their take on the world of Pandora, the 10-foot-tall Na’vi, and the Toruk (the flying dragon creatures).

My complaints about the movie aside, it was a gorgeous film with a fully realized alien planet and creatures that lend themselves to the Cirque du Soleil stage quite nicely. Toruk will be Cirque du Soleil’s 37th production since 1984, and I’m really looking forward to this one.

Obviously inspired by Avatar, Toruk – The First Flight is a multimedia spectacle that takes place thousands of years before the movie and before any humans visited Pandora. Led by a storyteller character, the show follows three young adults – Ralu, Entu, and Tsyal – and tells the story of the first flight of the Toruk.

Officially, “When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.”

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The show was written and directed by Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, who previously broke ground for Cirque du Soleil with Delerium, the 2006 production that was the company’s first touring arena show. (In other words, it didn’t travel with its own big-top tent.) The duo has a long creative history together, and they recently collaborated on Continuum, a breathtaking multimedia show for Montreal’s Rio Tinto planetarium.

Their involvement alone significantly raises my expectations for this show.

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Toruk – The First Flight begins previews on November 12 in Louisiana and will perform in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts before making its world premiere in Montreal on December 21. Following that, it will launch a North American tour that will last throughout 2016 at least. Check the full schedule here to see if it’s coming near you.

I will be catching the show during its previews in Richmond, VA. Stay tuned for a full review toward the end of November. The show will be presented at the Richmond Coliseum from November 27–29, 2015, for five performances only. Tickets can be purchased here.

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