Cirqueling The World with Stacey Magiera: On Tour With Cirque du Soleil
Stacey Magiera is a powerhouse acrobat with a ferocious jovial energy that inspires everyone around her. She has worked with Cirque du Soleil for over nine years and performed in two residential productions in Las Vegas and currently travels around the world with TORUK- The First Flight Arena Tour.
Stacey began her artistic gymnastics career at the age of seven and competed for four years in Division I NCAA collegiate gymnastics for University of Illinois at Chicago. Following graduation, Stacey’s desire to continue performing led her to take a job in San Diego, California to work with the show Cirque de la Mer. After compiling her professional show reel with footage from her acrobatic and gymnastic career to date, Stacey sent her demo reel to Cirque du Soleil casting. Fast forward nine years and now Stacey is living a dream lifestyle as she circles the globe with TORUK inspired by James Cameron’s blockbuster film Avatar.
TORUK is an arena tour production that travels around the world at a rapid rate. Since the world premiere in 2015, TORUK has performed in over 71 cities. The production is a prequel to the Avatar movie with a strong storyline told through acrobatics, exciting projections and life size puppets to make the audience feel like they’re part of the world of Pandora.
Photo by Titi Takka
Stacey joined the creation of the production in 2015 and has performed in the show for over two and a half years. “In this show I play a Na’vi character and I’m Chief of the Anurai clan. I perform a balancing act on a spinning skeleton seesaw, an act on a motorized spinning pole and an aerial rope number,” Stacey said.
On a tour break, Stacey joined me in Macau, China, S.A.R. while TORUK traveled to Sanya, China. Stacey was spending several days between Macau and Hong Kong visiting friends.
“Since I joined the show, I’ve traveled to 215 different cities and 25 countries. In 2017 alone, I traveled to 19 countries! This production allows for frequent tour breaks and I love to travel as much as I can when we are not performing,” Stacey shared.
There is a fine art to this traveling with this type of show along with making the most out of tour breaks. Stacey is a master. When she arrived at the Macau Ferry Terminal, she carried only a small backpack. “In 2017, I was in summer weather almost the entire year and I started carrying a 40-liter backpack year-round. With time, I found it useful to also carry a smaller backpack with all my electronics and valuables with a lock on the zipper. This way on plane rides I can keep all my valuables with me and check the bigger backpack. Now, I can go on short getaways with only my small backpack and leave my larger pack in storage at my hotel,” she explained.
Photos courtesy of Stacey Magiera. All rights reserved.
I met Stacey for the first time as I joined the Cirque du Soleil show, Viva ELVIS in 2011. She would tell me stories of working in San Diego and the two years following when she had moved to Alaska. After working two seasons with Cirque de la Mer, Stacey decided to move to be closer to her sister, Lauren and coach gymnastics at a local gym where she was able to continue to train and enhance her skills.
Stacey has experienced great adventures in the performance world and receiving her first call from Cirque du Soleil casting was very memorable. “I was ice fishing when I received a call from Cirque du Soleil asking if I could move to Montreal the following week to do a creation for a new show! Two days before my flight, a volcano erupted and grounded all planes leaving Alaska. I had to call Cirque du Soleil and explain that I wasn’t going to make it. Luckily, they understood and rebooked my flight a few days later and I made it to Montreal headquarters and was cast in the show Viva ELVIS in 2009,” she shared.
Working on Cirque du Soleil creations can often bring challenges to the performer as they develop their roles within the show, being constantly engaged both physically and mentally.
“The most difficult task for me when I first started performing in Cirque du Soleil was Buffon class. You have to get up in front of the class and act out things like the color yellow, a blade of grass or a happy strawberry. At least it was a good laugh to break the ice with my new cast mates at the time,” she remembered.
Viva ELVIS opened in Las Vegas at the Aria Resort & Casino at CityCenter in February 2010. The production was a harmonious fusion of dance, acrobatics and live music in tribute to the life and music of Elvis Presley. “My favorite show that I’ve ever done was Viva ELVIS. There was something so special about that cast and that can never be recreated. I’m still very close with most of the cast,” Stacey shared.
Following the closing of Viva ELVIS, Stacey was hired as a house troupe acrobat for the Cirque du Soleil show KA. For her role at KA, Stacey performed in acts that required great physical body strength. Although Stacey is incredibly humble, her physique is impressive. I ask her about what other people might think of her hard work and dedication to her fitness. “Other people might say my physical strength is my best attribute. I have the all-time record for women in Cirque du Soleil, with 35 pull ups. I think my best skill as a performer is my consistency. I may not be the best acrobat in the world but I’m never out of shows and I always give 100%,” she said.
While performing at KA, Stacey was offered the opportunity to join the creation of TORUK. “On a touring show you literally get paid to see the world. I originally was hoping to get on a Cirque du Soleil Big Top tour, which stays in each city for 2-3 months depending on the show. When I was offered a contract for an Arena tour, which is a new city every single week, I thought it might be too fast paced for me but decided to give it a try. I’m so glad that I did! We get to see so much in a short amount of time and I feel like every week is a vacation in a new city,” she shared.
“Would you recommend tour to others?” I ask. “Absolutely!” she exclaimed. “I’ve done several resident shows and loved it but going on tour is a completely different experience. Not only do you get to grow as an artist, you get to experience different cultures, food, people and landscapes. I’ve been wanting to go on tour for years so it’s a dream come true for me.”
Photos courtesy of Stacey Magiera. All rights reserved.
Performers working on long term shows must think of ways to stay motivated both physically and mentally while seeking inspiration.
“I keep a travel journal of all my adventures. I write my favorite areas in each city, best coffee shops, restaurants, bars, tour companies, hidden beaches or hiking areas as well as a price breakdown and how much everything cost. In the past 2.5 years on tour I’ve completed 7 journals. Because I travel at a faster pace, I’m glad I’ve documented everything because it’s impossible to remember that much detailed information about 215 cities. I’m not able to take souvenirs with me so at least I have this as a memory. I’ve also started a travel blog, CirquelingTheWorld.com,” Stacey said.
“As a performer, my inspirations come from training hard my whole life in gymnastics and learning to transfer those skills into becoming an artist on stage. It’s been really inspiring to meet so many talented individuals in each show from all different countries, trading skills and bridging cultural differences. Every person is so unique and I love learning new things from my colleagues. I’m also very inspired to plan new adventures in different countries. About a year in advance, we receive a tentative schedule of all the countries we’ll be performing in our tour plan. When our show is changing countries, it takes time to ship it internationally so we get some time off. Depending on how far the distance is, the time varies from days to months. We’ll have the option to go home, but I like to stay abroad and backpack the surrounding area. I spend a lot of time researching what each country has to offer and finding off the beaten path activities and hiking trails,” she shares.
After working with Cirque du Soleil for over nine years, one thing is for sure, Stacey’s zest for life, performance and travel is not slowing down anytime soon!