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Set & Stage


The Storyteller
Omaticaya Clan
Ralu & Entu
Inside Hometree
Weaving Song
Shaman's Vision
The Clearing
Tree of Voices
Tawkami Clan
River & Desert
The Anurai Clan
Palulukan Bone
The Tipani Clan
Borrowed Energy
Kekunan Clan
Prophecy Signs
Hallelujah Mtns
Toruk Makto
The Reunion




Costumes & Characters
    "TORUK-The First Flight presents unique challenges: for one, the story is being told mostly by one of the main characters, the Narrator. This means that the costumes must also tell part of the story." - Kym Barrett, Costume Designer.

When she took on the challenge of interpreting for the stage the animated characters in AVATAR through costumes, Costume Designer Kym Barrett set out to respect the dress codes established by James Cameron’s team without copying exactly what was done in the movie. “While we worked within the parameters of Pandora, we had room to create our own version of the mythical first flight,” says Kym. Since the movie is set 3,000 years in the future in relation to TORUK – The First Flight, the Costume Designer needed to determine how the N a'vi's clothing culture had changed over that period of time and, working backwards, create her designs accordingly. She also needed to strike the perfect balance between comfort for the artist who wears the costume, and authenticity for the audience. "We’re trying to create Pandoran fibers which, of course, don’t exist in our world", observes Barrett.

Pandora’s inhabitants, the Na’vi, are divided into five clans – Kekunan, Omaticaya, Anurai, Timpani, Tawkami – each with its own colors and attributes. Some wear elaborate headdresses while others are adorned with organic accessories. "Just like in real life, each has its own personality and style." The Omaticaya’s domestic culture revolved around weaving and bead-making and using the things they found in their natural surroundings – from seeds and vines and leaves, to bones and precious stones. And one look at the Storyteller’s mantle is enough to know that he is well traveled and has received various tokens from other clans over time. Likewise, the Shaman’s costume suggests that travelers to and from the Omaticaya’s home have brought her ornaments and treasures that she has incorporated into her ceremonial robe.

  There are 115 costumes in the show, an average of 3.3 costumes per artist. The costume department produced more than 1,000 items in all, including shoes, headpieces and necklaces. Some are colored using turquoise silkscreen ink. As turquoise silkscreen inks are extremely sensitive to sunlight, all costumes with this feature need to be covered with a black garment bag during storage.
What’s more, the costumes need to look like they were handmade by the Na’vi. "We use certain materials that imitate objects that would normally be found in nature," she adds. Hence the organic, handmade look to the wardrobe. Textures and prints were designed to overcome the fact that there are no fabrics on Pandora. The artisans in the costume department sought out materials that potentially looked like they were naturally available to the Na’vi in their environment. They “invented” Pandoran fibers that do not exist on Earth. Some varieties of “extraterrestrial flora” used in the costumes are in reality cut-outs of loofah sponge or molds from cabbage leaves. A loincloth that looks like it was made from leaves is in fact made of crinoline, an open-weave horsehair and linen fabric usually stiffened and used for interlinings, skirts or underskirts. some costumes are made with parts of hammocks and fishing rods, and bones were used as inspiration to sculpt the Anurai decorations and to adorn the corset of the Storyteller.

"Another main challenge with TORUK – The First Flight lies in transforming a stadium into a whole other universe while giving a 180 degree panoramic view to the audience," explains Barrett. In spite of the sheer size of the set, the audience should feel immersed in Pandora’s landscape, even when the action takes place a bit further away. "All characters and actions need to be clearly visible from all angles," and the technical intricacies of the costumes should remain invisible to the audience. That’s why the costumes need to show just enough details so as to look handmade when seen close-up, and still have that organic, shimmery, intriguing feel from afar, explains the costume designer.

Before designing the first elements of the clan couture however, the team needed to address the epic challenge of reproducing the look of the Na’vi’s skin convincingly in terms of color and skin tone. Kym chose four different blue base skin tones to account for natural DNA variations among the Na’vi people. These skin colors had to work on all performers, regardless of their complexion. Twenty-five different variations were created for the Na’vi base. The base skin fabric, an optical white synthetic fiber, was silkscreened to create the muscle and distinctive stripes. The bioluminescent effect is created using a product that reacts to the light filters used in the show.

With its long, prehensile lemur-like tail, the body of the Na’vi is leaner and taller than a human’s. Acrobats do not generally fit this mold. By and large, performers in the circus arts world are more of a medium stature and more muscular than thin. The team had to start by establishing the muscle structure and the base print colors then create the Na’vi body stripes. They elongated the thorax as much as possible in order to replicate the Na’vi’s body form by raising the chest design a few inches on the costume in relation to the artist’s own chest.

Although they are morphologically similar to humans, the Na’vi have a wider nose and larger eyes. To suspend the audience’s disbelief and create the illusion that the 35 performers on stage are in fact Na’vi, the make-up artists in the costume department needed to “remodel” the artists’ faces. In addition, countless hours were spent finding and creating unifying bioluminescent patterns that pass seamlessly between the printed fabric of the costume and the make-up, which is a unique foundation color that was created specifically for the show.


The Storyteller
    There is an aura of mystery about the Storyteller – a wanderer who roams the land, going from village to village and from clan to clan, in constant touch with his people. Wrapped in his beautiful, weathered mantle, the wise yet unassuming Storyteller exudes wisdom and compassion. As for his age, nobody knows for sure. Time seems to stand still for those who experience life- changing events of the highest magnitude. Regardless of the clan he was born into, the Storyteller’s soul contains the joys and sorrows of all his Na’vi brothers and sisters. He is a guide and a connector – a messenger of peace and unity. Long ago, the Storyteller earned a special place in the hearts of his people, and that is where his true home is.
    Ralu, Member of the Omaticaya Clan, is the son of a formidable hunter who taught him exceptional focus and discipline. Ralu is a sensitive and compassionate boy on the brink of adulthood. Although he is only 14 years old (in Earth years), there is a calm and quiet force about him that underscores his carefree attitude. Always on the lookout for his childhood friend and protégé Entu, Ralu is a natural born leader. Whenever the going gets tough, he channels all his energy and skills into the challenge at hand and invariably gets the job done. Just ask Entu, whom Ralu once saved from certain death by luring away a thanator during archery practice deep in the rainforest. No wonder everybody rallies behind Ralu – his is a doer and a thinker with a heart of gold!
    Entu, Member of the Omaticaya Clan, lost both of his parents early in life in a freak attack by a thanator. He is the same age (14 years old in Earth years) as his lifelong friend Ralu – his mentor – with whom he has always engaged in a healthy competition that has definitely kept him on his toes. Spunky and intense, Entu is fully in touch with his emotions and knows to follow and trust his instincts. One day, when a member of his clan ventured too far out on a cliff edge and was left dangling on a limb, Entu instantly concocted an ingenious counterweight device using his pack, a sturdy branch and some vines to lower himself down the mountain face and save the boy, showing total disregard for his own safety. With his quick wit and dauntless spirit, Entu is eager – and ready – to dive headlong into the adventures that lie ahead.
    Tsyal, Member of the Tawkami Clan, is the only child of a village chief who lost her mother at a tender age. She was raised by her grandmother with the help of other members of her clan, as is the custom among the Na’vi. Highly proficient in herbal lore, her grandmother was a chemist widely revered among the Tawkami for her unique remedies and concoctions. Tsyal’s clan is renowned throughout the land for their knowledge of chemistry and alchemy, and the abilities she inherited from her grandmother are transmitted every two generations through a special bond among clan members. Spurred by her grandmother’s legacy and wanting to live up to the expectations bestowed upon her, Tsyal has taken great pride in creating innovative mixtures and recipes of her own. True to her clan nestled deep inside the primeval forests of Pandora, this easygoing, sprightly girl with an indomitable spirit has a cheerful nature and loves to play tricks. With a mere seed, she can put the fiercest beast to sleep; with the frailest-looking flower, she can induce the most beautiful dreams or provoke the most terrifying nightmares. Such is the tremendous power of the natural elements that Tsyal and her clan have learned to understand and harness.

{The Storyteller}




Cirque Corner