Tue, Dec 07, 2010
Putting their best feet forward

[Above: Niamh O' Connor (pronounced "Neev") and Chloey Turner]

Niamh O' Connor, 34, flips through an old Riverdance programme like it was a school yearbook.

"That's me," she says, pointing to a photo from the souvenir programme issued in the year 2000. "And that's my ex-boyfriend. That's another ex-boyfriend," she points out, much to the bemusement of Chloey Turner, 23, the newest female lead with the show.

Come February 2011, it'll be her 16th year with the Irish dance show - that's over 5,000 shows her feet have tapped to.

Riverdance at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark
Click on thumbnail to view
For more photos, click here.

O' Connor also performed with the troupe when it first came to the Singapore Indoor Stadium 10 years ago.

Turner, on the other hand, is still growing into her new role, having debuted as the lead three months ago.  While early reviews of the show have described her performance as slightly reserved, Turner is sure that she'll be more relaxed in the shows to come.

The two ladies chatted with AsiaOne about how the tour has been so far.

Has this tour been more challenging?
Chloey Turner (CT): Physically, it's been quite demanding. As soon as we get on a new tour, we have a lot of drills (rehearsals). The first week always tends to be very busy - with everyone making sure the show's completely synchronised and that everyone's completely fit.

Niamh 'O Connor (NC): We haven't been to Singapore in 10 years so our producers and dance director wanted Singapore to have the best show, so we had extra rehearsals to be polished and present the best version of the show.

Were you nervous?
CT: Yes, you'll always feel a bit nervous, whether you're in the troupe or in the lead role. That gets the adrenaline going and you feel more excited, especially when opening a brand new theatre.

NC: It was nerve-wracking opening the theatre. It's a huge honour and we were delighted that we were part of that. We felt more responsibility for it to be a success.

You never get to the point where you say "Oh I can do this with my eyes closed?"
Both: No.

NC: You're always pushing yourself and you want to perform better every night. If you felt you weren't 100 per cent in a certain dance, you'll want to focus on that and get it right the next night.

CT: It's always a challenge. Everybody's always got something they can work on.

How's this theatre different from other venues you've performed at?
NC: There's plenty of space backstage for us to warm up and stretch, which is very important for us.

The floor's great - sometimes we've had problems where the floor's too hard for us to dance on. If the floor's too hard it can really affect your shins, knees and lower back - that makes the performance a struggle.

Your thoughts on Singapore?
CT: It's so clean, and I didn't realise that everybody spoke English. It's better than I thought it would be.

NC: I remember the audience being very receptive and we were happy to come back - it's (the Sands Theater) a much more intimate venue.

I prefer it like this because we can see the audience, you're so close and you can see their faces. We can see their expressions, their smiles, claps and cheers. That makes us full of energy and enhances our performance.

Before I leave, I must go to Raffles Hotel for a Singapore Sling.

How much more mileage do you think you'll get out of this show?
CT: I'll carry on as long as I enjoy it. I still love it. I can't see myself stopping anytime soon.

NC: The mileage depends on how much you take care of yourself. Whether it be diet, rest or learning how your body works at its best. We're all constantly learning how to ensure the longevity of our dancing careers.

I hear that Prime Minister Lee saw your performance as well.
NC: There was a lot of security backstage. That made us feel important. We were excited because we knew he was there. We were very honoured to dance for him. We were excited that he took the time to come to see us, and that he was interested in seeing Riverdance. Sixteen years later, it's still captivating people.

Riverdance, The Farewell Tour plays at the Sands Theatre, Marina Bay Sands until Dec 12. Tue - Fri: 8pm; Sat: 2pm and 8pm; Sun: 2pm and 7pm
TICKETS: $70 to $170 available from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or 63485555).

  Actress Yeoh meets Myanmar's Suu Kyi to discuss film
  Putting their best feet forward
  Ultra glam party for Vacheron Constantin opening
  Prince William and Kate use TV interview for charity: palace
  Riverdance makes history at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark
  Yasmin Ahmad wins best director award
  Oprah, Paul McCartney honored at Kennedy Center gala
  Korean celebrities mired in drug scandals
  Ashton Kutcher furious at sex tape promoting his name
  "Dead" celebs revived after $1.3 million raised for AIDS charity
MBS sues customer for $250,000
Romance's afoot in Riverdance
Bad boys always get the girls
Brief power outage at Sands Theater interrupts performance
Dance realm's chick flick

Elsewhere in AsiaOne...

Motoring: Marina Bay Sands reduces parking rates from $8 to $6 per hour

Business: Marina Bay Sands earns $315m

Multimedia: Stopped and asked to pay casino levy