If you're a fan of Cirque du Soleil shows, you'll be thrilled to hear that the new touring arena production, TORUK - The First Flight is now here in Singapore!
Poster credits to Sports Hub
Inspired by James Cameron's AVATAR, this spectacular production will be ongoing from now till 3 June 2018 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets can be purchased at Cirque Du Soleil Official Website or Singapore Sports Hub Website.
I've actually never watched AVATAR before so I did some reading up before attending the show. There are some characters and terms used so I didn't want to get confused.
The show transports you to Pandora where the Na'vi (i.e. the blue people that you see in the posters) lives. It tells the story of two Omatikaya boys, Ralu and Entu who took matters in their own hands when a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls.
When they learnt that Toruk, a mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky can help to save the Tree of Souls, they set off to find it. Prophecy is fulfilled when one of them rides Toruk for the first time and saves the Na'vi from a terrible fate.
I was so excited that I not only agreed to go for the opening show; I also jumped at the chance to attend its Behind the Scenes Backstage Tour, where I got to meet some of the performers who were playing the Na'vi characters.
They're trained in gymnastics, acrobatics and aerial arts so that explains the wonderfully toned muscles.
Check out the head gears that the performers had to adorn for the show.
It must be so tough to execute dangerous stunts while wearing all kinds of obstructive things on their heads and bodies. Besides head gears, they also had to put on lemur-like tails.
The blue bodysuits that the performers had to wear represents the bare skin of the Na'vi.
As the Na'vi walks around bare-footed, the performers' footwear had to be contoured to the shape of the human foot as well.
The quick change rack, which carried all the other adornments that the performers had to wear before their next scene.
We also got to check out some of the puppets used in the show, many of which are made-believe hybrid animals.
This is the Direhorse which required 2 puppeteers to control. The puppeteers also had to wear platform shoes to showcase the Direhorse's massive size. See the peep hole at the chest area of the Direhorse? That's the peep hole used by the puppeteers to see where they are going.
The Austrapede is a cross between an ostrich, a flamingo and a dinosaur.
The puppeteer had to control the neck and head with one hand while using his other hand to flap the wings when the Austrapede was frightened. Besides that, he had to wear 7-inch high platform shoes to give the Austrapede its distinct hop. Damn, sounds like a challenging creature to control.
One of the features of the show is indoor kite flying which makes the set look really beautiful against the 'night sky'.
These are the medium size kites - wait till you see their large ones. They looked almost like a parachute.
I didn't know what 'Toruk' meant at first and I thought it was referring to some land that the Na'vi had to go to.
It turned out to be this huge bird predator with a 40-foot wingspan. It was so gigantic and heavy that it required 6 puppeteers to control. Nonetheless, when it appeared at the last scene, its sheer size was truly magnificent.
Got to catch a snippet of the rehearsals during the backstage tour and I was so happy to capture this shot of the gymnasts doing a balancing act on the Thanator sculpture. SO COOL!
At 8pm, I attended the actual show with my bestie, Bev and we were both transported to the magical land of Pandora!
It wasn't so long ago that I was standing at the spectator stands watching the rehearsals against a plain, grey setting. With the power of light projections, the entire performance area was transformed into an enchanting new world.
The audience can also download 'TORUK - The First Flight' app on Play Store (for Android Phones) and iTunes (for iPhones) to be part of the show. Specifically, there will be moments when fireflies, wolf eyes etc. will appear on the phone screen. The audience can then turn their phones towards the stage to be part of the setting as well. See the above picture for an example.
Another thing to note is that the Na'vi speaks in their own language so unless you are one yourself, you wouldn't understand the exchanges that took place among the characters.
Nonetheless, there is a Storyteller who will narrate the story in English so thank goodness for his presence. Other times, you will also be able to guess what goes on from the exaggerated actions of the characters. I didn't mind not understanding the full story because I was more focused on the mind-blowing aerial tricks that I was seeing throughout the performance.
The Na'vi moves in a fast and agile manner, climbing structures and ropes swiftly with no sweat. They may swing around like monkeys but they can also move like a graceful gazelle.
One of the gymnast was sharing that the challenge he faced in executing a trick was that he couldn't just do a flip in his usual way; he had to add grace and fluidity in his movements. In other words, he had to learn how to move like a Na'vi and not a typical gymnast.
When the Pandoran Flora appeared, I was in awe.
Interestingly, I didn't feel much about the flowers when I saw them backstage but seeing them all fanned out during the show captivated me. I was also marvelled by the performers who were controlling the heavy flower fabrics while being suspended in the air.
Tsyal, a female Na'vi who is a friend of Ralu and Entu performed a stunning aerial silk choreography that made people go 'WAH!' and applaud with gusto.
I know just how difficult aerial silk is (I tried it before and I gave up) so I was very impressed by Tsyal's astonishing flexibility and crazy oversplits on the silk.
Climbing a pole may be no biggie for the Na'vi but it's a different story when the upper pole starts to spin in wide, circular motions.
The performers were practically throwing themselves around an aerial pole with amazing sync and coordination.
Remember the sneak peak during rehearsals? This was what it looked like at the actual show.
It still made my heart leap when they go into their handstands on such a non-sturdy structure.
How will Ralu, Entu and Tsyal take on the Toruk?
Nothing beats watching the show live so grab your tickets and catch Toruk - The First Flight before it ends on 3 June!
Disclaimer: This post is done in collaboration with Mediacorp Vizpro. Event feature and theatre review are based on personal experiences.