Cirque du Soleil's Toruk
I had the opportunity to watch Cirque du Soleil's long-awaited show Toruk which premiered on December 21st and will run until the 3rd of January at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Toruk - The First Flight was inspired by the 2009 film Avatar and its story is set prior to the events which happen in the film.
Before I proceed with my review, I need to first disclose that I have never seen a Cirque du Soleil show before apart from Odysseo. Odysseo is unlike any other Cirque du Soleil show. In Odysseo, the focus is on the horses and the relationships between them and their riders. Odysseo has less of the commonly featured acrobatics and faultless theatrics associated with other Cirque du Soleil shows. The same can be said of Toruk. The performers' connections with the props and scenery are the highlights in Toruk. In order to fully appreciate the show, Cirque du Soleil fans need to suspend previous expectations. The sets, lighting, and the puppets are the stars in Toruk. The atmosphere created by set and props designer Carl Fillion, lighting designer Alain Lortie, and puppet designer Patrick Martel is a show worth seeing in itself. As soon as I walked into the Bell Centre and saw the stage, I had doubts about what they could achieve with the space to convey a magical and beautiful place as Pandora, and I was not left disappointed. The live on-stage portrayal of Avatar's magnificent world exceeded my expectations. One scene in particular involved spectacularly realistic waves via the use of lighting crashing into the audience from the stage. Lighting was also used to create an epic flood which was an incredible sight to behold. The finale consisted of a majestic and dazzling display of Pandora's Tree of Life realized.
The performers' manipulation of the puppets in Toruk conveyed an impeccable display of the significant and invisible link between puppeteer and puppet. The puppets came to life on stage. During these moments, I never saw the performers as separate from the puppets they manipulated - they became one and the same - a successful intermingling of puppet and puppeteer. Even kites were used as a prop at one point which showcased a unique and striking choreographed number. Who knew a dance scene involving kites on stage could be so brilliant let alone possible?
In the end, who do I think will enjoy Toruk? Anyone who appreciates subtle yet splendid artistry that extends beyond grand sweeping performances. Toruk's choreography may not be up to caliber with other acrobatic stunts found in other Cirque du Soleil's shows but it holds weight in its own right. One needs to appreciate the skill involved in producing superb aesthetics and masterful puppetry to understand Toruk. For those who do, be prepared to be enchanted and dazzled by the atmospheric setting, experience the puppets come to life, and enter the enchanting world of Pandora through Toruk.
Disclosure: All or a portion of this event was sponsored or provided at a reduced cost in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own - no pretenses here!