Toruk — The First Flight is a Cirque du Soleil arena production launched in 2015. Here, the company's traditional acrobatic, dance, and musical disciplines are used in conjunction with puppetry and state-of-the-art projection imagery to depict an Expanded Universe Prequel to James Cameron's blockbuster film Avatar.
Millennia before humans came to the moon of Pandora and made contact with the Na'vi, the shaman of the Omaticaya clan foresaw an apocalyptic catastrophe — an impending volcanic eruption that would engulf the Tree of Souls. Two brothers from this clan, Ralu and Entu, soon learned via communion with their ancestors that there was yet hope for both the Tree and the Na'vi. By collecting five talismans of five particular tribes, a brave, pure-hearted Na'vi would be able to win the favor of and ride one of the Toruk — the great winged beasts that, up until then, the Na'vi knew only as predators. As it happened, Ralu already had one of those talismans, having recently and successfully gone through a coming-of-age initiation ritual. But of course, the brothers' gathering the other four talismans and from there approaching the Toruk would be no easy task, for the varied clans were all distrustful rivals...
The world premiere staging of this Spectacle in Montreal was filmed and is available on DVD.
Toruk — The First Flight provides examples of:
- ...And That Little Girl Was Me: The Storyteller reveals in the final lines that he was Entu, the first to ride a Toruk.
- The Chief's Daughter: Tsyal is the daughter of the leader of the Tawkami clan, the first one that the brothers encounter on their quest to collect the other four talismans. She decides to help them out when her father refuses to, bringing them the seed talisman and traveling with them for the remainder of the story; she and Ralu fall in love along the way.
- Convection Schmonvection: The lava is a deadly threat to the Tree of Souls in the climax, but not to the Na'vi themselves since they aren't touching it.
- Decoy Protagonist: Downplayed. Everything points to Ralu being the one who will ride the Toruk, but when he and his companions encounter it at last he ends up badly wounded. He immediately hands over the talismans to Entu, the story's true hero. Ralu does survive and he and Tsyal end up together. There is one clue to this trope for those who remember the movie, namely that Jake Sully was brought in to replace his brother as an Avatar after the latter died.
- Disney Death: In the climax, the Tree of Souls seems to go out, but comes back stronger than ever thanks to the Toruk's sacrifice.
- Expanded Universe: The first example of this trope for Avatar, predating the Pandora pavilion at Disney's Animal Kingdom park by about a year-and-a-half.
- Foregone Conclusion: The Tree of Souls has to survive to help set up the events of Avatar; the heart of the story is how this is pulled off.
- Gotta Catch Them All: The five talismans of the five tribes, which are the only things that can allow one to ride a Toruk for the first time. Each has a specific purpose; the seed of the Tawkami clan soothes the creature, for example.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The rescue of the Tree of Souls comes at the expense of the Toruk's life, with the implication that its life force revives the Tree.
- History Repeats: Inverted in relation to the film Avatar. Entu didn't seem to have a future as a hero after failing the ritual, becomes the actual hero of this story after his brother Ralu is wounded. Many centuries later, paraplegic Jake Sully will be recruited to replace his brother, who died in a mugging, as an Avatar and will also tame a Toruk, bring together the Na'vi tribes, and save the Tree of Souls.
- Hope Spot: The combined forces of the Na'vi tribes manage to pull down a cliff face to send tides of water upon the lava flow that threatens the Tree of Souls in the climax, but it only temporarily halts the firey mass. The heroes arrive soon afterward.
- Narrator: The Storyteller, the only character in the show who speaks English rather than the Na'vi language. All There in the Manual: According to an early press release, he is recounting this story's events to humans (i.e. the audience) sometime after the events of the film unfolded, by way of fostering understanding between the two races.
- On Ice: While not an actual ice show, this is in the same spirit of taking a popular intellectual property from another medium and presenting it as a live spectacle with an original storyline.
- Prequel: To Avatar, specifically explaining how the Na'vi and the Toruk first cooperated with each other.