Welcome to the world of Pandora

Cirque du Soleil brings its "Avatar"-inspired multimedia show "Toruk – The First Flight" to Shanghai in spectacular fashion.
Dong Jun / SHINE

A huge puppet is the highlight of the multimedia show.

Dong Jun / SHINE

Inspired by the James Cameron’s sci-fi hit “Avatar,” multimedia show “Toruk — The First Flight” is performed by Cirque du Soleil at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in the Pudong New Area through August 26.

Transporting the audiences to the world of Pandora, the live spectacle is set thousands of years prior to the events of the film. Weaving acrobatics, puppetry, cutting-edge visuals, choreography and sound, the show is an ode to the Na’vi’s coexistence with nature and their belief in the interconnectedness of all living things.

“Avatar is really meant to be a celebration of human motion, and Cirque du Soleil is able to capture that absolutely perfectly because it’s all about human performance and physicality,” Cameron says. “It makes you feel alive to watch these performers.”

Tropical rainforest, equatorial desert, boreal forest, mountains, ocean shorelines, wetlands and archipelago, the natural environment of Pandora, changes from minute to minute.

Forty projectors, over 1,000 costumes, four washing machines, 16 puppets, 19 kites and even workbenches tour the world with a crew of 43 actors and over 40 backstage staff from 23 countries.

Dong Jun / SHINE
Dong Jun / SHINE
Dong Jun / SHINE

“The stage property is transported by 39 shipping containers or four Boeing 747s,” said Janie Mallet, the show’s publicist.

Toruk, in the Na’vi language, refers to the great lenopteryx that rules over the Pandorian sky. The central character is brought to life in the form of a 115-kilogram puppet controlled by six puppeteers. Other puppets depict characters such as Direhorse, Austrapede, Turtapede and Viperwolf, symbolizing different clans. 

The actors speak the Na’vi language, which may not be understood, but the tone and body movements imply the characters’ emotions. A Chinese narrator helps the audience have a better understanding of the plot.

The show also incorporates multicolored kites. The 19 kites are the avatars of the Banshees which are winged predators in the story. The audience has chances to interact with two large kites during the show.

To display the lifelike Na’vi characters, the designers employed 25 shades of blue to make costumes. The make-up artists adopt four shades of blue to present the complexion of Na’vi from different clans.

Performance details

Date: August 16-26, 3:30pm (on weekends), 7:30pm
Tickets: 380-880 yuan
Venue: Mercedes-Benz Arena
Address: 1200 Expo Ave, Pudong New Area

Ti Gong
Ti Gong
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