Thursday, August 4, 2016

REVIEW: Behind The Scenes & Video Interview at Cirque du Soleil's Highly Recommended TORUK

ChiIL Mama's Adventures 
Behind The Scenes at TORUK

It was my great pleasure to visit the United Center on the afternoon of opening night for rehearsal and a behind the scenes photo tour. The kids and I then went back for opening night that evening and loved it! Highly recommended. 

We were also thrilled to catch Australian puppeteer and father of two, Nick Barlow, for an exclusive video interview! Nick sets the bar high for world class puppetry on a massive, arena show scale, while balancing fatherhood. 

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Nick studied Visual and Performing Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, in addition to puppetry, dance, physical theatre, circus, voice, Chinese Lion dance, and Japanese 'taiko' drumming.

Prior to joining TORUK – The First Flight, Nick’s first show with Cirque du Soleil, he was working with the giant puppet company Snuff Puppets.  As part of the company he was performing, touring, and building puppets.  Most recently he worked as a physical performer with Polyglot Theatre, and was a puppeteer on the Australian tour of 'War Horse'.

Beyond performing, Nick trains in Chinese Lion Dance, which uses kung-fu, acrobatics, puppetry, dance and music.  

Avatar movie fans will adore this live, stage version of the first TORUK flight with a rider, long before humans discovered the planet Pandora. Even if you haven't seen Avatar, the show stands alone as a visual feast full of world class acro acts, tissue (silks) acts, Spanish web, and stunning costumes, lights, and sets. Don't miss this! The arena shows are in and out of town fast. This one's only here for a short 5 day run, so get your tickets today! 

Check out my full set of photos right here in the slideshow. More favorites are embedded below.

Cirque du Soleil's TORUK 
in Chicago at The United Center

I love to see the process behind productions. So much work goes into making the magic and I find it fascinating to see the costumes and props up close. Cirque du Soleil puts an incredible amount of thought into every detail, from the custom designed fabric choices to the shorts to cover harnesses. 

The yarn weaves on the wigs are detachable for easy cleaning and replacement when necessary. And all the wigs and costumes feature earthy, natural items that could be found in the wild or made from natural fibers and materials like seashells, beads, beetle shells, and wood. 

It's truly a treat to see the actors in action during rehearsals too. Many are learning new acts so they can be understudies in case of injury or illness. The whole cast is in every show so they have to shuffle actors around to cover any gaps since they don't travel with extra performers.

Tickets for TORUK can  be purchased at 

The show
Inspired by James Cameron’s AVATAR, TORUK – The First Flight transports you to the world of Pandora in a visually stunning live setting. Experience a storytelling odyssey through a new world of imagination, discovery, and possibility.

Through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.

This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.

Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora.

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.

Creative team
TORUK – The First Flight comprises 13 creators under the artistic guidance of Guy Laliberté (Guide) and Jean-François Bouchard (Creative Guide) for Cirque du Soleil, and James Cameron, Jon Landau, Kathy Franklin and Richie Baneham for Lightstorm Entertainment:

Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon                Show Writers and Directors, Multimedia Directors
Neilson Vignola                                                 Director of Creation
Carl Fillion                                                           Set and Props Designer
Kym Barrett                                                        Costume and Makeup Designer
Tuan Le and Tan Loc                                        Choreographers
Bob & Bill                                                             Composers and Musical Directors
Jacques Boucher                                              Sound Designer
Alain Lortie                                                         Lighting Designer
Patrick Martel                                                    Puppet Designer
Germain Guillemot                                          Acrobatic Performance Designer
Pierre Masse                                                      Rigging and Acrobatic Equipment Designer

Sponsors and partners
TORUK – The First Flight in Chicago is proud to be presented by Visa Signature®, in association with United MileagePlus®. DHL is the official sponsor. The show is being created through a licensing arrangement with 20th Century Fox.

In an effort to bring audience members involvement to a whole new level, Cirque du Soleil will be launching a first-of-its-kind app for TORUK – The First Flight.  Working with long-time technology partner SAP, the app will enhance the overall show experience and enable audience members to be a part of the action before, during and after the performance! The app can be downloaded HERE

Here at ChiIL Mama, we did all try the app during the show with mixed results. It was somewhat distracting, and I felt a bit naughty, opening my phone during a show, but it was fun to be part of some key moments, and seeing large numbers of people in the stadium adding to the show's effects was empowering. My son's older android phone wouldn't run the app at all. The girls and I have iPhone 5s & 6s which worked, but were a bit glitchy. It may be that our T-Mobile signal wasn't stellar inside United Center or that too many people were on their phones simultaneously. Once we got in the fireflies part at the beginning, none of us could get out without shutting the app down altogether. Mine froze up at 2 points during the show and just gave me the welcome screen, not the action for the scene. Still, it was an interesting concept and I hope they improve and expand on it.

Follow us at, Twitter @cirque | Instagram @cirquedusoleil | Snapchat @CirqueSnap | #TORUK #Avatar #CirqueduSoleil

Cirque du Soleil
TORUK – The First Flight is Cirque du Soleil’s 37th production since 1984. The company has brought wonder and delight to more than 155 million spectators in more than 300 cities on six continents. Cirque du Soleil has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries.

For more information about Cirque du Soleil, visit
To find out more about the ONE DROP Foundation, visit

More of ChiIL Mama's TORUK Photo Favs:


No comments:

Post a Comment