You’d have to be living under a rock, or maybe be a resident of a faraway planet in the Alpha Centauri star system, not to have heard of Avatar—James Cameron’s famous 2009 blockbuster film full of bright blue alien humanoids from the planet-like moon called Pandora. Avatar is the highest grossing film of all time—the first film to ever bring in more than $2 billion, which surpassed even Cameron’s earlier colossal hit, Titanic. While four Avatar sequels are on the books—the first of which is supposed to be released next year—if you simply can’t wait that long to revisit the great blue world of the beloved Na’vi, their mother goddess Eywa and the dragon-like Toruk, there’s another option. The Cirque du Soleil is coming to town, and the latest rendition, TORUK—The First Flight, is based on the film Avatar. TORUK is a prequel to the movie, set 3,000 years prior to the adventures that billions witnessed on the big screen in Avatar, and long before humans ever wreaked havoc on Pandora.
Cirque du Soleil, whose mission is “to invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world,” is a “circus group” of artists and acrobats based out of Quebec. What started out in 1984 with just 20 talented folks juggling and walking on stilts in the streets of a small town near Quebec City, is now a big-time production company made up of 1,300 performers, providing entertainment to more than 155 million awe-struck onlookers all over the world. There are at least 19 different Cirque du Soleil shows currently in production, the latest of which, TORUK—The First Flight, will be appearing at New Orleans’s Smoothie King Center from February 1 thru 5, 2017.
In addition to the death-defying stunts and jaw-dropping aerial acts that Cirque du Soleil is so famous for, TORUK will also be making use of high-tech projectors for a multi-media spectacle, plenty of giant puppets, boomerangs, and 18 indoor kites which will be flying throughout the arena. Not to mention, with the carefully crafted set design, many props, impressive costumes and all that make-up, this is not an easy show to set up. So, what exactly goes into putting on a show of this magnitude? The folks behind TORUK shared some interesting statistics with us. And … Ngaru fi’ut! (Apparently, that means “Here it is!” in the language of the Na’vi):
TORUK, by the Numbers:
- The size of the stage floor of the The Smoothie King Center Arena: 15,000 square feet.
- Number of panels to cover that stage floor: 700.
- Number of video projectors used to create the world of Pandora: 40.
- Total surface covered by video projections: 20,000 square feet (over 5 times bigger than an IMAX screen).
- Number of cast members: 40 (including 1 actor, 1 singer, 1 percussionist, 1 kite-flyer, 1 boomerang wrangler, 1 contortionist, 28 acrobats and 6 puppeteers).
- Number of gigantic puppets those 6 puppeteers are responsible for: 16.
- Number of costumes in the show: 115. (With a cast of 40, that amounts to about 3.3 costumes per cast member).
- Number of different costume parts (shoes, headpieces, jewelry, etc.): 1,000.
- Fabric required to make the flowers on certain costumes: 437 yards (along with 120 fishing rods!)
- Size of the “Hometree” part of the set (designed to resemble a tree 2-3 times bigger than a Redwood): 80 feet wide and 40 feet high.
- Number of semi-trucks needed to carry all the equipment for the show: 27.
TORUK—The First Flight is playing at the Smoothie King Center February 1-5, 2017. Wednesday thru Friday at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday at 4:00 and 8:00 p.m.; Sunday at 1:00 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, go to www.cirquedusoleil.com/TORUK or www.smoothiekingcenter.com.
Both photos above by:
Photo: Errisson Lawrence. Costumes: Kym Barrett. © 2015 Cirque du Soleil