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REVIEW: Toruk: The First Flight (Cirque du Soleil / Target Center)

Photo by Lawrence Erisson.

TORUK – The First Flight opened last night at Target Center in Minneapolis. The latest show from Cirque du Soleil is a tour de force of visual design paired with elaborate acrobatics, dancing, and magical transformation after magical transformation. It’s also a brilliant showcase of the world from James Cameron’s film AVATAR, shorn of human intrusions.

Cirque du Soleil's normally elaborate costume and makeup effects step up a notch for Toruk.
Cirque du Soleil’s normally elaborate costume and makeup effects step up a notch for Toruk.

The plot of TORUK doesn’t matter; there’s nothing that you need to know beforehand, except to show up either decently well-fed or ravenous with enough time to go through the line and grab one of Target Center’s signature large food items. Once you’re seated, though, you’re in for a visual rollercoaster of an experience.

What are these visual stimuli? For starters, TORUK has aerial silks, elaborate costumes, puppetry, and acrobatics. It also has an incredible transforming set that fills the large space, making the interior of Target Center feel strangely but wonderfully intimate. Different windows into the Na’vi world are filled with distinct episodes of music, dancing, and visually lush junglescapes and costumes. This is not an experience for someone who’s easily overstimulated, but most people will do just fine with the intermission break.

Photo by Lawrence Errisson.
Photo by Lawrence Errisson.

The most magical moments of the evening are often not the most elaborate or impressive. It’s moments like walking into the arena and seeing a background starscape, of seeing the glowing Tree of Life slowly emerge, or the first emergence of an elaborate flying beast puppet that take your breath away. Not that you’ll mind the rest – quite the contrary – but within all the pomp and circumstance and elaborate routines there are pieces of transcendent beauty like watching flowers unexpectedly bloom on stage.

TORUK: The First Flight plays at Target Center in Minneapolis through October 2.

Basil Considine