Arts Film/TV World

‘Avatar’-themed Cirque du Soleil show ‘Toruk’ presents Asian premiere in Manila

Here's what you need to know.

Cirque du Soleil brings the Avatar universe to the stage in Toruk: The First Flight, a show inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar. It premieres for the first time in Asia on June 23 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Toruk publicist Janie Mallet dishes all the details in an interview with GIST:

Janie Mallet, spokesperson for “Toruk: The First Flight” (Photo by Mong Pintolo)

Toruk: The First Flight is set 3,000 years before Avatar. “Toruk is the first Cirque du Soleil show that’s based on a movie. We usually have original products that start from an idea. This world, on the other hand, already existed. It’s set 3,000 years before the movie Avatar, so there are no humans on Pandora, there are no Avatars, there’s only Na’vi. So we use the invented language of the Na’vi, and our artists really learned the language. We have the large puppet Toruk, which is the name of the show. It’s the color of fire, the orange red that we saw on the movie Avatar, and we recreated that for the show, as well as invented new creatures. We tell the story of the first person who rode the Toruk, and in Avatar there’s someone who does that, but he’s the sixth person. It can be a prequel, but it’s also a standalone story that everyone will understand and appreciate.”

Photo Credit: Jesse Faatz

James Cameron was totally hands on in the creation of the Avatar universe on the Cirque du Soleil stage. “The show is created in partnership with James Cameron’s company, Lightstorm Entertainment, which did the Avatar movie. James Cameron was definitely there from the first discussion — it’s been five years from the first discussion to the first show. He gave us the Pandorapedia, the big book with everything, and everything that you see in the show had to be approved by him. Everything you see in the show, it’s the Avatar world with the signature of Cirque du Soleil.”

Photo Credit: Jesse Faatz

Toruk has the biggest stage in Cirque du Soleil history. “It is very very big. We take the whole arena floor, about 20,000 square feet. Everything on the floor is our stage. We have 40 high, powerful projectors, and the projection space is actually more than five IMAX screens, and that’s what makes the scenery change from the lush jungle to the desert, to the waterfalls, so it’s almost like a cinema movie. But of course, there’s the acrobatic, live action aspect. We also have 100 people traveling for the show, we take care of everything. So it’s really a big production.”

The show’s Asian premiere will be held in Manila. “We opened in December 2015, and did 15 months in North America and had over 1.3 million spectators there. And now this is our first show outside of North America, first in Asia. I think that from what I see already, Filipinos are so nice and warm and welcoming, so I guess the dream is that they’ll be like that on the show. There’s so much work and passion put into this show, so we’re hoping that it’s going to be a great experience for everyone.”

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Cirque du Soleil Toruk: The First Flight runs from June 23 to July 2, 2017 at the Mall of Asia Arena. Tickets are now available at SM Ticketnet outlets. 

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