We were given an incredible opportunity to interview Lydia Harper; an acrobat in Toruk - The First Flight by Cirque Du Soleil!!!
Read the interview here...
From a young age Lydia started performing. In her youth she trained acting at the Mill Arts Centre and later Playbox Theatre Company. It was there she started training as an aerialist. During this time, she frequently performed in shows and toured to various youth theatre festivals, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and to the Santa Monica Playhouse in LA.
Lydia trained at the National Centre for Circus Arts and since graduating Lydia has worked throughout the UK with companies including Cirque Bijou, Metta Theatre, Tangled Feet, Chivaree Circus, Trends Entertainment and Circulus. She was one of the original company members of the UK’s first integrated circus Extraordinary Bodies and is one of the founding members of the company Silver Lining, which had a successful few years including tours to Holland and premiering their second show 'Throwback'. Lydia also was company director, producer and one of the creation directors for Silver Lining.
One of our teens; Szymon Tomczyk went down to Manchester Arena to interview Lydia before the opening night.
Szymon: Hello, can you introduce yourself?
"I'm Lydia Harper, I'm an acrobat in Toruk - The First Flight and my background is in Acting and Physical Theatre and then I trained circus when I was a teenager became a professional circus artist!"
Szymon: How did your career as an acrobat start?
"Well, I trained at the National Centre for Circus Arts in London and I got a degree in circus and then it kind of took off from there. I worked three lengths for three years and I've set up my own contemporary circus company and it was very small scale like Fringe shows and stuff and then Cirque called me and said "Do you want a job painting yourself blue and running around" so I said "Yes!" and here I am now."
Szymon: What made you want to become an acrobat at Cirque Du Soleil?
"Well, truthfully I was doing my A-Levels and we were having to submit UCAS forms for universities and it was just soooooooooo boring, so to annoy my head of Sixth-Form I said "I'm going to go to a circus school instead" not thinking I'd actually get in and then I did and so I thought to myself; Right, well let's run with this until I can't do it anymore!"
Szymon: What is your favourite moment of the show and why?
"It happens at the end, I can't tell you too much because SPOILER ALERT! but it involves a wall running act so I'm in a harness and I'm running up and down a wall doing acrobatics and maybe we save the day... that's all I'll say."
Szymon: In the show, the acrobats speak the Na’vi language on stage which is a fictional language created for inhabitants of the fictional moon Pandora in the 2009 film Avatar and now used in this show; how did you learn the language and how hard was it?
"It's quite difficult as it has lots of tongue rolling, clicks and stuff we don't have or use in the English language so I struggled with it a lot but we've had a specialist from the movie, she worked on the movie, she came and taught us the basics so we've kind of got into using it and there is also an app
Szymon: What does it feel like being a part of Toruk - The First Flight?
"Ooo, it's AMAZING! It's so much fun being on stage with the projections and the puppets and everyone painted blue from head to toe. It really feels like you're on Pandora! It's an incredibly immersive show so to be in it... it's like being in the movie, it's beautiful!"
Szymon: How long does it take you to put on your make-up & costume and prepare for the show?
"Well, make-up usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour, it's a LOT! To warm up for the show I'll do about an hour's worth of physical warm up, cardio, physiotherapy exercises just kind of stretching and then costume takes about 10 minutes to put on as there's lots of detail, stunning head pieces and stuff!"
(Below is a slideshow showing Lydia's transformation)
Szymon: You have travelled around the world with Toruk - The First Flight; which stop on tour was your favourite and why?
"New Zealand was my all-time favourite as it's just beautiful there and I'm kind of obsessed and want to move back there but it is very special to come back to the UK and performing in my hometown; London, and all my friends and family are going to come and see the show there so these next two weeks are very exciting!"
Szymon: Manchester is the penultimate city on Toruk's tour before it closes in London; have you got anything planned for the future?
"Oooooo, I don't know! Ummm, I'm really excited to... ugh, what am I doing with my life, oh gosh! I'm really excited to do some new adventures and work on some ideas that I've had whilst I've been touring the world!"
Szymon: Would you ever want to continue working for Cirque Du Soleil?
"Absolutely! I'm trying to get them to give me a new job, so we'll see... sending a few emails."
Szymon: What advice would you give to Teens who aspire to be an acrobat at Cirque Du Soleil?
"Always keep trying and always work as hard as you can! Don't ever give up just because one audition or one call back says no, there'll always be another one and you know, you have to have to keep trying and your dream will come true and it's magical when it does!"
Toruk - The First Flight has now unfortunately closed in London on Sunday (30/06/2019) however Cirque Du Soleil keeps producing more and more amazing shows like Toruk!!!
To read our review of Toruk - The First Flight Click Here and to visit Cirque Du Soleil's website to find out about their other shows Click Here.
You can follow Lydia's adventures via her social media channels linked below
(Photo Credit: Thom Carroll for PhillyVoice)