Photos by Melissa Quesada for Latin Life Denver Media
Visually, it’s easily the most stunning show Cirque du Soleil has produced, as state-of-the-art video projections and theatrical technology are used to evoke an ever-changing tableau of alien landscapes.
The inspiration for “Toruk” was James Cameron’s fantasy film, “Avatar,” set on an alien moon called Pandora that is populated by a race of blue-skinned humanoids called the Na’vi.
That’s really about all you need to know about “Avatar” to follow or appreciate what happens in “Toruk,” thanks in large part to the Storyteller (Raymond O’Neill), who narrates the fable-like story of two youngsters who set out on a quest to save their civilization.
This journey brings the two, Ralu (alternately played by Gabriel Christo and Jeremiah Hughes) and Entu (Daniel Crisp and Guillaume Paquin), in contact with various Na’vi tribes, each of whom demonstrates its own collective skill.
These range from high-bar gymnastics and tumbling, which becomes an initiation ritual, from the Omaticaya clan; aerial dance and silk flying from the Tawkami clan, with a great deal of floral imagery denoting this group’s botanical skills; balancing from Anurai, who construct a totemic structure from the bones of a gigantic animal, and then use it as a see-saw, as well as a puppet; pole acrobatics by the spear-carrying Tipani; and a display of indoor kite acrobatics from the Kekunan.
What “Toruk” offers is unparalleled, immersive visuals. Combining vivid projections, fluid choreography and inventive staging, “Toruk” is a treat for the senses. A volcano rumbles and erupts. A waterfall pours from the backdrop. Clever puppeteering makes Viperwolves, Direhorses and other creatures — particularly the winged Toruk itself — are as real as any of the actors and acrobats. And the SurroundSound envelopes the audience in an aural cocoon that completes the spectacle.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the special effects in this show are truly amazing. With some clever choices in sound effects and lighting, as well as the gorgeous projected scenery, you a are easily transported through the wilds of Pandora. They also manage to capture the raw power of nature. The set takes up the entire floor and every bit of it is transformed. Sometimes even the audience is transformed!
Toruk Performs at Denver’s Pepsi Center from Thursday July 21 through Sunday July 24th.