Riverdance will play at the Durham Performing Arts Center next week with an eight show engagement from June 7th through the 12th. An exciting blend of dance, music and song, Riverdance remains one of the most popular dance productions ever with over 11,000 performances seen by over 25 million people worldwide. To mark the eagerly awaited return of the show to North America, ending a four-year absence, Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour will feature new costumes, new lighting, new projections and the addition of a brand new number, “Anna Livia,” featuring the female members of the Irish dance troupe in an acapella hard-shoe number.
I’m looking forward to attending the show on Tuesday (it will be my very first time), and will share my full review next week. Leading up to its run in Durham, I had the honor of interviewing one of the shows principal dancers, Chloey Turner, who has been with the production for 8 years. We covered everything from her extensive dance background and fitness training that prepared her for joining the production, to things to look for in the 20th anniversary edition of the show.
English-born, Chloey started Irish dancing with Jenny Flower at the Matthews Academy and has competed at national and international feiseanna, qualifying for the world championships every year. Chloey joined Riverdance in 2008, touring Europe, Japan and China and one of her highlights was performing at Radio City, New York. Chloey is a keen athlete and a qualified personal fitness trainer, she loves to motivate and help people achieve their personal goals.
Can you share a little bit about your journey to becoming a principal dancer in Riverdance?
“I always wanted to be apart of Riverdance, it was a dream of mine from the day I started Irish dancing at 8 years of age. I was a competitive dancer for 10 years before taking some time out to become a personal fitness trainer, I was also a keen athlete and would compete in various long distance races. I missed dancing very much though and wanted to audition, My dad and I recorded my dancing and sent it on to Riverdance where I was then asked to audition in Dublin, that was during the summer 2007. I was lucky enough to be chosen and joined the corrib company touring Europe the following year. 18 months later I was asked to train for the Principal role.”
When did you first start dancing growing up? What forms of dance are you trained in?
“I started dance classes aged 6. Ballet, tap and modern. But after seeing Riverdance on the TV I asked my parents if I could try Irish dancing. I gave up the other dance forms and concentrated on perfecting my Irish dance. I liked the discipline and athleticism of this particular art form.”
Did you start out as a troupe member?
“I was a troupe member for the first 2 years of my career before taking on the lead role and have been touring as the lead ever since.”
I know dancing is very physically demanding. How much time do you spend rehearsing between shows while all tour?
“Every day before our performance we have time on stage to go through each number to make sure the show is in the best shape. We then do a group warm up.”
Are there other forms of training & exercise you do to remain a strong dancer?
“I am a certified personal trainer and constantly looking for new ways to improve fitness for dance. We perform 8 shows a week, this alone keeps us physically fit but Irish dancers have to keep a perfect posture when dancing, various core exercises help this. We can be prone to ankle injuries and tight hips so keeping mobility and strength in these areas are essential also.”
Do you have a personal connection to the culture and folklore represented in the show
“My heritage is both British and French. I’m part of the generation that started Irish dancing because of the phenomenon that is Riverdance. When the show opened 20 years ago most of the cast would have been based out of Ireland and were Irish dancers because of their culture. It’s a testament to the show and how popular Irish dancing has become world wide that we now have so many nationalities performing in the cast.”
With Riverdance celebrating its 20th Anniversary how has it changed over the years?
“There have been many changes over the years including lighting, a new LED screen, costumes changes, new numbers including ‘Anna Livia’, an all female dance.”
What is your favorite number in the show and why?
“My favorite number has to be Countess Cathleen. It is the first time the audience is introduced to the female lead. In this number my role is to be strong yet elegant and graceful, I enjoy the music and the rhythms of this dance.”
Any advice for things audience members should look for in the show, especially for somebody who is seeing it for the first time?
“I would say to look forward to the award winning music and some of the best dancers in the world. For someone who has never seen the show it is very impressive to watch a team of 25 dancers on stage performing in perfect unison. Riverdance truly has something for everyone to enjoy, Irish dance, Tap dance, Russian ballet, a Spanish flamenco dancer and a live band.”
What are some of your favorite things to do during any free time you have while on tour?
“I like to study anything to do with fitness. Dining out is a hobby of mine, I love to try different foods. I also like to shop and sight see with my cast friends.”
Are there any particular spots you are looking forward to visiting while on tour in Durham?
“I have some friends in NC that I will visit, I look forward to spending time with them. I hear the weather will be lovely so I want to spend a lot of time outside. Perhaps I will visit the science museum.”
Riverdance plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center Tuesday June 7th through Sunday June 12th. For more information and to order tickets visit http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/riverdance