Alana Mallon is one of the lead dancers with Riverdance and has travelled all over the world and performed to audiences of thousands of people.
She started dancing at 3-years-old, and within a few months had already won her first of championship. She progressed to win various competitions throughout the UK and Ireland, consistently ranking in the top 3 at the All-Scotland and British Nationals and the top 10 at the World Championships.
Her first role with Riverdance was On Broadway. Tours of Europe, Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Far East, and North America followed.
Alana is Riverdance’s longest serving female principal dancer.
How did you get into Irish dancing?
I got into Irish dancing early on as a child, my parents took me along when i was 3 years old. I’ve been dancing for 29 years.
For many, I think there’s a story of how they first saw it or got interested. For me, it’s a little different as it’s always just been there. I wouldn’t remember a time where it wasn’t part of my life. I feel lucky that something as unique as Irish dancing feels normal to me. At the same time, I have a great respect for its complexity and the joy that it brings to others. It makes me happy to share that with the Riverdance audiences.
How does it feel to be a part of Riverdance?
That’s a difficult question! I believe everyone’s reaction to being a part of Riverdance changes over time. At first, it’s extremely exciting. For a Irish dancer it’s like winning the most important award of your dancing career. It’s a great honor to be part of this show.
I remember seeing it for the first time and being captivated by it. I saw the cast moving in unison, heard the sound of the dancers’ taps, and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a part of that. As time goes on, the initial feeling of disbelief that you’re in the show goes away. What replaces it is a great appreciation for the production, from the stage crew setting up the show, to the ladies in the wardrobe department. There’s a pride attached to being in Riverdance.
Riverdance has had a tremendous impact on people’s mindsets. Before Riverdance, Ireland wasn’t seen in the same light. It wasn’t known for being modern or with the times. Riverdance changed peoples perceptions while retaining Ireland’s roots. The show draws on Irish myth and the legend. It broadcasts that piece of Ireland worldwide while embracing other parts of its history like emigration to America. Not only did the show reach out to those with Irish heritage, but it exposed other nations to Irish culture.
Are you looking forward to heading to China?
I am looking forward to China, it’s always exciting to go on another adventure. Part of my preparation is embracing the time I have at home, spending it with my family and pursuing other interests away from dancing. Having this time really prepares me for a tour.
Of course, I will always work on my fitness and stretch in the down time, but I believe it’s equally important to place myself in a good mindset leading up to performing night after night. Audiences can tell when something is off, and I try to present the best experience for them each time I take to the stage.
hat’s your exercise routine like?
I wish there was one way to prepare for the show, but I’ve found nothing really compares to Irish dancing and running through the numbers. I do work the key muscles like the core with sit-ups, or planking. As far as stamina, running or spinning are good. I prefer spinning as it’s less impact on the legs. I try to keep my fitness up without overusing my joints before it’s really necessary.
What will your tour schedule be like?
The tour schedule seems pretty fast paced. Some nights we’re only there for one night, in other places we’re there for three nights. It appears to me though that we won’t have that many matinees, mostly night shows. That’s really good for the cast as I’d say dancing a matinee and then the night show is one the most difficult aspects of this job. I think we’re going see a lot of new places that we never would have seen otherwise.
Will you get much time off?
Not really. Our schedule is pretty tight and condensed. We will have our typical day off, but otherwise it’s go, go, go! It’s good as it keeps your mind fresh and it keeps you focused on the task at hand. If you had too much time off it would be pretty easy to start missing home, especially with Christmas-time being one of the weeks.
How will you be spending Christmas Day?
We’re moving quite a bit this tour, but on Christmas Day I’ll be spending it in Wuhan, Hubei. We’ll be performing the show as the Chinese people do not celebrate Christmas. I’m sure however that we will have something planned as a cast to keep our spirits high while being so far from home.
Riverdance in many ways becomes your second family. We experience all the highs and lows of touring together, but I don’t think anyone would change it. I know I will try my best to stay in touch with home as I know I’ll be missing them.
Are any members of your family planning to visit you?
Unfortunately, no. With the schedule that we’re keeping, along with the distance, I don’t think they’ll be able to this time. It would be great to have them there, but logistically it wouldn’t be possible.
What do you think is your fondest memory of Riverdance?
It would be hard to pick just one. I’ve been with the company for many years and there are a lot of great memories attached with that.
The company also changes with cast members getting married or moving onto new projects that having a fondest memory is really hard to pick. I know that I’ll miss nights out with so many of the cast from over the years.
Professionally, I think I could say that performing for my parents at Radio City Music Hall was a great memory that I have and also performing on the Great Wall of China, that was very special also.