Accidental puppeteer pulls strings for Cirque
MINNESOTA-BORN and raised Rob Laqui became a puppeteer by accident.
After moving to New York more than 10 years ago, the performer was working in physical theatre and dance when MOMIX, a company of dancer-illusionists, called for him to work with puppets made by The Lion King designer Michael Curry.
“So I was puppeteering before I knew I was puppeteering for the most part,” Laqui said.
“And then I got into a production of War Horse that propelled me into puppetry as a more solid choice and I’ve been working as a puppeteer ever since. I would have never predicted this if you’d have asked me 10 years ago but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
One of Laqui’s first auditions when he moved to New York was for Cirque du Soleil, where he was put “on call” on the company’s database of potential performers.
“There was a part of me that thought: ‘I’m going to work for Cirque tomorrow’ and it wasn’t until a decade later in 2014 that they called again to go in for another audition,” he said.
This time Laqui talked himself up as a puppeteer – a new venture for Cirque du Soleil – and he was offered a role in the team of six puppeteers collaborating on Avatar-inspired Toruk – The First Flight.
“I was having dinner with a friend when I got the email and he just started laughing because we would always have these nerdy conversations about the science of Avatar,” Laqui said.
Toruk is touring Australia and will be at Perth Arena from November 24, with the season extended to December 3.
The show is a prequel to James Cameron’s Avatar and is set thousands of years before the events of the film.
The visual spectacle includes more than 40 intelligent projectors to transform the arena setting and the audience can download the Toruk – The First Flight app to participate further during moments in the show.
A scene from TORUK - The First Flight.