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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Human agility on display in Cirque show at Golden 1 Center

Photo by Errisson Lawrence © 2015 Cirque du Soleil. Costume by Kym Barrett.
Photo by Errisson Lawrence © 2015 Cirque du Soleil. Costume by Kym Barrett.

Cirque du Soleil’s “Avatar”-inspired show will be in Sacramento at the Golden 1 Center for “Toruk: The First Flight” from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

The show was inspired by James Cameron’s “Avatar.” The show fuses cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and a cinematic score. Narrated by a Na’vi storyteller, the story is set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film and before humans set foot on Pandora, according to Cirque du Soleil.

The Express had a chance to ask Laura Silverman, spokesperson for “Toruk: The First Flight,” about the show.

What is the background of the performers who play the main characters?
Silverman: The main performers have varying backgrounds. Some come from circus school, some gymnastics, some acrobatics for fun, some were dancers, and more. What’s so great about the cast of “Toruk: The First Flight” is that it is so diverse. We have 18 different nationalities represented. We have artists who have performed with three different Cirque du Soleil shows. We have artists who are straight out of university. The age range of the cast is from 21-65.

How many months of preparation/hours in a day is spent to master the choreography for “Toruk”?
Silverman: The creation process with the artists was about four months from when they first arrived at Montreal (Cirque du Soleil’s headquarters) to the first show. Once the show opened, the artists continued to work on their acts and make them better. They still train for several hours a day to keep their bodies in shape and to make sure the choreography is as tight as can be.

How long does makeup take for each performer before the show?
Silverman: On average the makeup takes about 45 minutes to one hour for each artist. When they first learned the makeup it was taking nearly two hours, but now that they have been putting it on for about a year, they have all become a bit faster.
How do performers prepare with fitness and diet routine/regimen for these roles?
Silverman: This is unique to each performer. Artists are in charge of their own routine, making sure they exercise and eat properly so they can adequately perform their roles. Cirque du Soleil gives them the tools to do this by providing healthy catering, workout equipment, as well as support staff, including a head coach who works with the artists and offers different types of classes like Pilates and a physio department to help prevent injuries.

If you can compare “Toruk”’s production to any other Cirque production, what rank would you give it?
Silverman: “Toruk: The First Flight” is a completely different type of show from any other Cirque du Soleil production. There is a major focus on the storytelling and the visual feast being presented to the audience. Every Cirque du Soleil show offers something different to the audience, if you’ve seen another show, don’t expect to see anything like that here. Expect to see a multimedia experience full of color and enchantment.

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Silverman: Cirque du Soleil first approached James Cameron with the idea of creating a live production inspired by “Avatar.” However, the two already had a relationship. Cameron previously collaborated with Cirque du Soleil on the film “World’s Away” and once said that he was inspired by the movements of Cirque du Soleil acrobats when creating “Avatar.” I think it’s a great fit because both entities are so groundbreaking in their respective field, and so with “Toruk: The First Flight” we are able to create a live production unlike anything anyone’s ever seen before.

Describe/Tell me about the puppeteers in the production?
Silverman: The puppeteers represent the Spirit of Eywa, a vital part from “Avatar” emphasizing that everything is connected, and bring to life all of the creatures that live on Pandora. There are 16 different puppets including the Toruk, the largest puppet that requires all six puppeteers to operate together.

How many performers are in “Toruk”?
Silverman: There are 41 artists in the show.

How long does the show run? Will you be doing the standard 10 shows for Sacramento?
Silverman: The show is two hours with a 20-minute intermission. We will perform eight shows – one on Wednesday and Thursday, and two Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We perform Wednesday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Dec 4.

How many times in the years Cirque has been around has it used animals in its performances? Being a circus that rarely use animals, what is Cirque’s stance on animal abuse/welfare/cruelty in the circus business?
Silverman: Cirque du Soleil has never used animals in its shows. That is something that sets the company apart from other circus companies. Cirque du Soleil was founded with the goal of putting forth the incredible feats and abilities of the human body, which it has done for over 30 years now.

What more can you tell me about the production?
Silverman: “Toruk: The First Flight” is an extraordinary show unlike anything you’ve seen before. The use of technology and projections to bring Pandora to life is remarkable. For two hours it is an opportunity to escape into another world and follow a coming of age journey.

Discount tickets are available for students. Individuals must be 13 years old and over with a valid student I.D. (includes college and university student I.D.). The senior discount applies to individuals 65 years old and up. Military discounts apply to those who have valid military I.D. Student, senior and military discounts are available for select performances only.

For ticket pricing information, visit

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