Trans­for­ma­tion of a Cirque du Soleil star

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN

JES­SICA Ward cred­its a ground­ing in “Perth-style” ac­ro­bat­ics with help­ing her soar on to the in­ter­na­tional stage in Cirque du Soleil’s lat­est Avatar-in­spired of­fer­ing Toruk — The First Flight.

Ward’s par­ents grew up in WA be­fore re­lo­cat­ing to the other side of the coun­try in their mid-20s and start­ing a fam­ily.

Af­ter train­ing as an ac­ro­bat through­out her child­hood in Perth, mum Lynette opened her own Syd­ney gym where then four-year-old Ward was one of the star stu­dents.

“The Perth syl­labus Mum taught was dif­fer­ent to the rest of the coun­try,” Ward said. “The tech­nique fo­cused more on the con­tor­tion side of things with lots of hand balanc­ing and tum­bling on hard ground rather than mats like in gym­nas­tics.

“Learn­ing how to tum­ble on a hard stage from an early age, which is what we do in Cirque du Soleil, has been a big ben­e­fit to my ca­reer.”

Ward also trained in bal­let and gym­nas­tics and now lives in Las Vegas, but has spent the past two years tour­ing the world with the show.

She said that while liv­ing out of a suit­case was an easy ad­just­ment, learn­ing the make-up rou­tine re­quired to trans­form into a blue-faced Na’Vi took a while longer.

“Each per­former was trained to do their own make-up when we were put­ting the show to­gether back in Mon­treal,” she said.

“The first cou­ple of weeks of the tour I was al­lot­ted two hours be­fore each show, but it would take me closer to three. Now I can get it all done in 45 min­utes.”

Set in James Cameron’s Avatar uni­verse and billed as a pre­quel to the 2009 sci-fi epic, Toruk is a de­par­ture in style from past Cirque Du Soleil shows.

Parts of the set are pro­jected on to a back­drop big­ger than five IMAX screens and the show has an ar­ray of pup­pets up to 12m tall. Toruk – The First Flight is at Perth Arena from Novem­ber 24.

Ready to tum­ble: WA’s Jes­sica Ward goes from Jess to a blue Na’Vi for her Cirque du Soleil per­for­mance. Pic­ture: Ian Cur­rie

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.