Warm up with Lead Dancer Chloey Turner and Riverdance

Riverdance Lead Dancer and qualified Fitness Instructor Chloey Turner shows you how to warm up like the professionals!
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More about Chloey..

Chloey Turner Fitness is dedicated to training and educating Irish dancers, and other athletes alike, on ways to grow, fuel and sculpt their bodies

There is a constant and seemingly endless debate over whether or not dancers and other performing artists ought to be classified as athletes. Personally, I find it petty and increasingly irrelevant. The only valid distinction worth mentioning between sport and any art form is that one has the ability to be judged based upon objective goals and rules while the other is largely subjective and left to personal opinion and interpretation. It is, however, an undeniable fact that performing artists physically cannot perform properly if they are not of a certain athletic standard. Therefore, this distinction is trivial and altogether unimportant.

I am a professional dancer, but I identify myself as an athlete. This has caused me to recognise that there is something beautiful in combining artistry with raw physical strength. This unique combination transcends basic sport because it creates complex demands on the individual, which results in a multifaceted performance.

Currently, I am a principal dancer with Riverdance and have toured the world with them for the past eight years. I am also a certified personal trainer. It is my passion for fitness and sheer athleticism that initially attracted me to Irish dancing as a child. I grew up in Northamptonshire , England and began Irish dancing at the age of 8 , I danced with The Matthews Academy in Coventry. At competitions, I was often overcome with nerves and lacked general confidence in myself. Yet, my father’s endless support and belief in me always helped me find a way to go up on stage. As a typical impressionable adolescent filled with insecurities, the discipline of Irish dancing saved me from going down a potentially dangerous and destructive path. I never won a major title, but I truly loved and appreciated Irish dancing for the incredible challenge it presented to not only be in physically tip-top shape, but to be technically perfect as well.

Alongside dancing, I trained in athletics where I competed in the 1500 metre, various relay teams, as well as 10 kilometre road races. At 18, I retired from competition in order to fully dedicate myself to becoming a personal fitness trainer. Yet, it took less than a year of working in a gym before I realized how much I missed dancing and that being a part of Riverdance was still very much a dream of mine.

Leading up to my audition, I practiced as much as possible and incorporated everything that I had learned throughout college and my time in the gym in order to create a training programme that was specifically designed to enhance my dancing performance as a whole. I was lucky enough to have an amazing trainer and motivator, Ash Singh, as a mentor who helped encourage me and afforded me the confidence I needed to ultimately achieve my goal. Fortunately, I was successful in my audition and was one of the very few selected to train in for the touring company. I completely attribute my being selected above all the other dancers to my athleticism and strength. While this was definitely a personal triumph, it only further validated my hypothesis and gave me the motivation to create similar programmes for other dancers, performers and athletes in order to help them achieve their true potential just as Ash had done for me.

I started touring with Riverdance at the beginning of 2008 and within 18 months, I was chosen to train in as a principal dancer. I performed that role for the first time in the summer of 2010 at the Gaiety theatre in Dublin to a very proud family and a surprised father who was unaware I’d be dancing the lead role that day!

By changing the way I approached dancing and training my whole body, my entire life changed along with it. I grew stronger, leaner and far more confident. As a result my dancing and performance ability greatly improved. Performers require a serious amount of full-body strength and stamina in order to control their carriage and corresponding arm movements, all whilst maintaining a sense of presence and poise on stage. This is in stark contrast to the much more obvious speed, agility and technical execution a dancer displays throughout a two hour performance. To me, this pairing exemplifies the very paragon of athleticism.

Just as it is true that in order to become a better dancer, you must technically practice dancing, I am also an adamant believer that we are athletes and must train ourselves in that discipline as well. It is a complete lifestyle change. I now think about everything from how best to fuel my body and what workouts will best compliment and build the body I need for the show. For the past several years on tour, I have begun training various members of the company as well as leading group workout sessions that I customised specifically for us.

Unfortunately, the majority of dancers have significant muscle imbalances, which result from isolated training and thus neglecting their bodies as a whole. Therefore, it is my greatest ambition to design workouts that will help balance and further improve any athlete and inspire the coming generations of dancers and other performers by sharing my exercises, routines and experiences that I have accumulated over the years. I’ve consistently been looking for better ways to improve strength, stamina, flexibility, elevation and most importantly, how best to warm up and cool down. Preparing the proper foods in order to peak for a performance and how best to recover afterwards is something many people neglect, but it is vital in order to continuously grow and remain healthy and injury free.

I am an athlete, but I’m also an artist and I truly believe you cannot be one without the other. As a professional dancer, it is my job to perform. Every night I go on stage and dance for thousands of people. My role as the principal lead requires me to exude softness and grace, followed by power and strength. If I didn’t have the stamina, how could I ever properly perform? How could I exude grace and poise if I didn’t have the core strength to maintain my carriage? None of it would be possible if it weren’t for the athleticism I possess.

I’m dancer.

I’m an athlete.

And I can prove it.

What I eat in a day: Chloey Turner, Principal dancer with Riverdance


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