For nearly 10 years, French-Canadian company Cirque du Soleil has built and maintained a reputation for transporting Australian crowds to enchanted places through performance, music, visual-effects and story-telling.
James Cameron’s iconic 2009 film Avatar is the inspiration for Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk – The First Flight, which arrives in Perth on November 24. Set thousands of years before the events of Avatar, the show brings the blue Na’vi people and their homeland of Pandora to life with 40 projectors, 3D projections and 16 giant puppets.
Australian acrobat Kristi Wade makes her Cirque du Soleil debut in Toruk and says bringing the blue Na’vi people to life took months of practice.
“At the beginning of rehearsals, the biggest challenge was learning to move and do our aerial work with a tail – we kept getting wrapped and caught,” Wade says. “It originally took hours to master the intricate make-up, but now it only takes about one hour. The rest of our costume is the blue Na’vi skin and headpieces.”
There’s a strong Aussie presence in the show with five performers and four production crew members from Australia. Originally from Sydney, Kristi has worked around the world. She specialises in aerial hoops, trapeze, aerial stirrups, swinging straps, rope and tissu (fabric aerial).
“I was only nine when I saw my first Cirque du Soleil show and that was when I knew that I wanted to be an acrobat,” Wade says. “It really is a dream to be back in Australia and performing in Toruk. Plus Avatar is my favourite movie, which makes it even more special.”
During the two-hour performance, Wade performs multiple acrobatic acts.
“I change character in each set so I jump between young and old characters, which is great,” she says. “I’m constantly acting, doing rope, pole work, running up walls, working with giant kites and at one stage, they have me standing on a giant 3D lily.”
The cutting-edge visual effects and mythical nature of the show also make it family-friendly.
“Kids love to see us dressed in the costumes and these costumes are magical,” Wade says.
*Toruk – The First Flight runs from November 24 to December 3 at Perth Arena. Tickets available through Ticketek.