March 9, 2009
Name: Donna Marie Boyle
Do you have to be a champ to get into the shows?
You do not necessarily have to be a champion but it does help if you have placed well in competition. With Riverdance, more emphasis is put on your stage presence and being a sharp dancer. It is more important to be able to dance in a line and work together with the rest of the troupe as opposed to performing as a solo dancer.
What’s it like getting up on the stage and performing to hundreds of people?
The feeling is unbelievable! While I competed for almost 20 years and was used to getting up on stage, for me nothing compares to performing the lead role in Riverdance. The adrenalin rush you get when all those thousands of people are cheering for you in different countries throughout the world is something you could never forget.
Did your mind ever go blank and is it really pressurised?
To be honest, I have never really made any major mistakes on stage. Similar to competition dancing, we train very hard and the steps are so drilled in to us that it is difficult to forget them. As a lead in Riverdance, you do have extra responsibilities and sometimes that brings pressure. You’re dancing and performance has to be at a high level and that must be maintained throughout every show.
Did you always place well at the comps?
I did have a successful competitive dancing career winning most of the major titles such as Great Britain’s, British National’s, All Scotland’s and placed in the top 3 at All Ireland’s and World’s. That came with a lot of hard work and determination over the years and it also helped that my mum was my dancing teacher.
Is there a chance for someone who places but not necessarily very highly to get into Riverdance?
Certainly, although it helps if you have placed highly in competition, Riverdance is open to anyone who has talent and is a hard working and dedicated Irish dancer. In Riverdance, it is more important to be in sync with the rest of the troupe and dance sharply as opposed to performing as a solo dancer.
Do they get homesick and how do they overcome this?
For me, being the lead in Riverdance is my dream job. I love performing and touring the world, however I do get homesick! I have very close family and friends so it is difficult being away from them. Facebook and Skype are always a good way of keeping in contact. My family often come out and visit me on tour so that also helps.
Do you get much time to sightsee and shop in all the amazing places you visit?
If we only have a night show then generally our days are free so we have the opportunity to sightsee. We spent 4 weeks in Tokyo last year, which was an amazing experience and we had some spare time to sample the local culture.
How does it feel to be ambassadors for Irish Dancing across the world?
It really is an honour to be in such a privileged job. It feels like all those years of training hard for competition have finally paid off! It is also great that we can promote Irish Dancing abroad and in countries that had previously not known anything about Irish Dancing. Riverdance has really helped promote Irish music and dance across the globe, and it is great to be part of that.
Do you have any healthy eating tips for keeping energy levels up while you perform?
I always try to eat pasta the night before I perform lead as this improves the energy levels. I also drink lots of water throughout every show to keep hydrated and occasionally, if I need an extra boost I would drink energy drinks such as Lucozade or Powerade.
Interview with Riverdance Lead Maria Buffini
Interview with Riverdance Lead Dancers Maria Buffini and Joe Moriarty