Australian Acrobat Jessica Ward Shares Cirque Experience


Acrobat Jessica Ward giving an interview about Cirque Du Soliel Toruk opening this week. Oct. 25, 2016. Photo/Larry Valenzuela

Cirque du Soleil’s global tour of “Toruk- the First Flight,” inspired by James Cameron’s “Avatar,” is opening in Fresno on Thursday. Cirque du Soleil will be bringing Cameron’s record-breaking film to life through acrobatics, puppetry and stage visuals while still keeping Cirque’s signature style. “Toruk- the First Flight” opens Thursday and runs until Oct. 30 at the Save Mart Center. For more information, visit or

This is your first tour with Cirque du Soleil, how is the experience so far?

“I did one special event in Vegas, but this is my first full-time project with Cirque du Soleil. It’s pretty amazing; it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. To finally be here and doing it is so amazing. [Challenges are] the schedule we run. We’re in a different city every week. The technicians have to set [the stage] up and take it down every single move. It’s very fast paced, we’re not in a place for longer than [a week]. But I think seeing the evolution of the show from what it was last June when we first started creating it to now is an achievement in itself.”

Why did you join Cirque du Soleil?

“I saw my first show maybe 15 years ago and I remember watching it, thinking this is so cool that people do this for a living. It really took a long time come to come to a decision from that point of when I just saw it. I’m super grateful for this opportunity. I still pinch myself when I’m here and doing this for work.”

Why did you decide to focus solely on acrobatics?

“I was quite young when I started doing acrobatics. My mom was a teacher in Sydney, so I felt like I had a pretty good base in both areas. It was a tough decision for me to choose one or the other because I loved them both so much. Acrobatics is super fun, it’s something that I’ll hope I can do for quite a while longer.”

How did the opportunity to join Cirque to Soleil come about?

“I auditioned four years ago and I got an email to submit for this show about two years ago. So, it’s been what feels like a long time coming. It’s really nice to finally be here.”

What is “Toruk” about?

“Toruk” is based on James Cameron’s “Avatar,” but the storyline is completely separate from it. We have a narrator for the first time, which we’ve never ever done before, a team of acrobats, puppeteers, one storyteller and a singer.”

What are you performing in “Toruk?”

“I do an aerial rope number at the beginning. It’s like a vertical rope that you climb and do tricks on. We have big indoor kites, so I fly one of those and we have some big flower fans that we manipulate. I do an indoor rock climbing scene and hand balancing on this cool dinosaur bone structure.”

How long has “Toruk” been touring?

“We’ve been on the road for almost a year at this point. We did creation for four months at the beginning.”

What are some of your favorite places you’ve performed so far?

“Chicago was one of my favorites for sure, there’s honestly been so many of them and I’ve lost track! We’re all excited to be in California. We go to LA in a couple of weeks, so I’m excited to go there. We’re going to be in Edmonton for the last week of the tour, it’s going to be absolutely freezing so I don’t know if I’m looking forward to that.”

Any future plans with Cirque du Soleil?

“I hope so, I’ve just re-signed until December of 2017 so it’s going to be interesting to see the evolution of the show from here until then. I hope to work for Cirque for a really long time. It’s a wonderful company to work for.”