Make a Day of It: TORUK – The First Flight

Run Oregon loves running – that’s no surprise. But we also love the Pacific Northwest and all that it has to offer. Running is a part of us, but it does not fully define us. In our new “Make a Day of It” feature, we aim to showcase some great local non-running events and highlight where to run and how to make the most of your experience!

The next installment of this series is TORUK – The First Flight by Cirque Du Soleil.

First the running:

If I were you, I would recommend getting there really early and securing a parking space far in advance, perhaps at a nearby paid location, and getting in a run beforehand. Then its up to you where you want to go:

  • Waterfront Loop
    • This is the obvious place to start. If you get there early and find street parking, you can easily head across the river on the Steel Bridge and hit up the popular loop. With the new Sellwood Bridge now open, you can put in some serious extended miles!
  • Willamette River Greenway Trail
    • While this may basically be an extension of the Waterfront Loop, I consider it a different route altogether. I always find myself heading out this way when I’m in town. It’s primarily right on the river (aside from a few detours), and is a lot quieter than the Waterfront Park section. It mostly only goes up to the Broadway Bridge before ending, but recent construction looks like this will be extended a lot further in the future (though not before the event comes). Either pull an out-and-back or head over to Lovejoy and run through the Pearl before returning.
  • Interstate to Mississippi brewery tour
    • If you are looking to explore (and perhaps sample a few beers), consider heading NW on Interstate and connecting up with Mississippi. You will be able to check out Upright Brewing (right across the street from Moda), Widmer, McMenamins, Ecliptic, and Stormbreaker. And depending on which way you return, you can also check out Fire on the Mountain (near Interstate and Skidmore), or Lompoc, Hopworks Bike Bar, and Ex Novo (all on Williams or within a block or two).
Picture credit : Errisson Lawrence © 2015 Cirque du Soleil Costume credit : Kym Barrett

Now to the details to the experience itself:

TORUK – The First Flight  is described as:

Inspired by James Cameron’s AVATAR, TORUK – The First Flight transports you to the world of Pandora in a visually stunning live setting. Experience a storytelling odyssey through a new world of imagination, discovery, and possibility. Through a riveting fusion of cutting-edge visuals, puppetry and stagecraft buoyed by a soaring cinematic score, Cirque du Soleil applies its unique signature style to James Cameron’s imaginary world and “makes the bond” between two kindred artistic visions that capture the imagination.

This live immersive experience also bears the distinct signature of directors and multimedia innovators Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon. It is a living ode to the Na’vi’s symbiotic coexistence with nature and their belief in the basic interconnectedness of all living things.

Narrated by a “Na’vi Storyteller” and populated by unforgettable characters, TORUK – The First Flight is a mythical tale set thousands of years before the events depicted in the film AVATAR, and before any humans ever set foot on Pandora. When a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, Ralu and Entu, two Omaticaya boys on the brink of adulthood, fearlessly decide to take matters into their own hands. Upon learning that Toruk can help them save the Tree of Souls, they set out, together with their newfound friend Tsyal, on a quest high up in the Floating Mountains to find the mighty red and orange predator that rules the Pandoran sky. Prophecy is fulfilled when a pure soul rises among the clans to ride Toruk for the first time and save the Na’vi from a terrible fate.

Run Oregon was able to sit down with Michael Ocampo, Head Coach on TORUK – The First Flight, and ask some questions about the fitness demands that a show such as this provides. Mr. Ocampo performed as an acrobat with Cirque Du Soeilf or 10 years. He was a tumbler on Alegria for five years and then a Russian Swing/Chinese Poles/bungee trapeze artist on Saltimbanco for another five years. Since he stopped performing, he has been coaching with Cirque du Soleil on various touring shows and at the Montreal studio.

He was also a National team member in Canada, competing at several World Championships and World Cup events at the end of his competitive career. Prior to that, he was a gymnast. Now, in addition to coaching certification from Canada, he has certifications in Pilates, Yoga and personal fitness instruction.

Picture credit : Errisson Lawrence © 2015 Cirque du Soleil Costume credit : Kym Barrett

Run Oregon: What is the preferred workout of cast members if you could only choose one?             

Mr. Ocampo: All of the artists have varied workout programs that include cardio and strength and conditioning aspects. I honestly wouldn’t be able to choose a single type of workout that is preferred by all cast members, but I can say that nearly all of them share a type of workout: bodyweight workouts. The acrobats on this show come from gymnastics-type sports and circus schools. They all use some sort of bodyweight training in their workouts. This is to say that it isn’t always necessary to pick up weights and use weight machines. Sometimes, the acrobats can use their own bodyweight on ropes, chin-up bars and various structures to create resistance exercises.

RO: Do you enjoy working out outdoors? If so, do you have a favorite spot, or a “must run/hike” trail to share?

MO: Now that I am no longer performing, I have become an avid runner. On every show where I work, I start a running group. I post whenever I am going for a run and people are free to come and join along. Having done a couple of marathons and regularly running distances of 10 to 15 kilometres, I will always run with the group (perhaps a 5 to 8 kilometre run) and then continue on for a little added distance by myself. I love running outside and in each city, I try and find a nice place to run near the hotel. This is not always easy. The best places have parks or waterfronts nearby. Otherwise, sometimes I end up circling residential areas or even a shopping mall. Each city is different.

A few of the artists organize trips on the days off to parks where they hike and rock climb. In general, this group is quite outdoorsy.

RO: How much activity do the artists get during the course of a show?

MO: Some of the artists are on and off of the stage constantly. Some of the them are on stage for nearly the entire show. As a general rule, this is a cardio-intense show for the artists. This is not usually the case. Each year, we conduct physical capacity assessment exercises and for nearly every single artist from their initial testing to the second year of testing, they all went down slightly in percentage of body fat and had better cardio results.

RO: Do artists wear an activity tracking device? If so, do you find on show days they get more activity than non-show days?      

MO: While the artists on our show do not wear physical activity trackers during the shows on a regular basis, we do have this technology available to us. The Las Vegas resident shows use vests that send biometric information to computers so that the strength and conditioning specialists who work for the resident shows division can collect and interpret this information. I am hoping to get a few of the vests onto our show when we are in Vegas, correspond with the S&C specialists and get some of that information for our show. The artists love getting this type of information. I would say that it is safe to say that for most of the artists they get far more activity on show days than on non-show days.

Thank you to Michael for answering our questions and providing us with some great insight!

Picture credit : Errisson Lawrence © 2015 Cirque du Soleil Costume credit : Kym Barrett

Portland Event Dates:


  • Moda Center at the Rose Quarter


  • Wednesday, December 7, 2016 7:30pm
  • Thursday, December 8, 2016 7:30pm
  • Friday, December 9, 2016 7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 10, 2016 4:00pm & 8:00pm
  • Sunday, December 11, 2016 1:00pm & 5:00pm

Cost: Purchase tickets here:

  • Adult: $110.00, $85.00, $66.00, $50.00, $34.00
    Children: (Ages 2-12): $88.00, $68.00, $53.00, $40.00, $27.00
    • Up to 25% discount for groups of 12 or more
  • Parking fees TBD (take public transit if you can!)

Follow the Event on Facebook!

About Matt Rasmussen (1568 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.
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