Siobhán Manson began dancing at the age of 4 in her hometown of Galway with the world-renowned Hession School.
For the next ten years Siobhán competed at local national and international level winning numerous championship titles. At 17 she began her professional career touring with Celtic Legends in France and French Polynesia.
In 2004 Siobhán was offered a full time position with the Broadway phenomenon Riverdance and putting her academic studies on hold spent the next four years on the road with the European, American and Asian companies. After only a year with Riverdance Siobhán was asked to train for the lead role.
She is currently on tour with Riverdance on their China Tour.
How did you get into Irish dancing?
I started Irish dancing when I was about 5 years old with the Hession School of dancing in Galway. My teachers were Celine Hession, her daughter Gemma and Deirdre Gallagher. I loved dancing and although I had a lot of other pastimes growing up, dancing was the one that persisted throughout my school years.
How does it feel to be a part of Riverdance?
The first time I ever saw Riverdance was on the Eurovision songcontest but I was only 9 years old at the time so my memory of it is vague. The next time I saw the show was when I joined and I had to sit in the audience and watch the numbers I was learning!
The first show I ever did with Riverdance was one of the scariest experiences of my life, I was so nervous and the arena we were performing in seated about eight thousand people, it is something I will never forget. It has been amazing traveling to different countries and seeing the huge fan-base Riverdance has and being a part of that.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being part of the show is the people I have met along the way. I have made lifelong friends with people from all over the world and living in such close proximity for months on end means we are like family. It is a privilege working with every one of them.
Riverdance affects people in an unusually profound way. Because there is an Irish community in most countries throughout the world, people connect with it as if they are experiencing a piece of home when they come to the show.
Even the non-Irish audience members can relate to it as the music and rhythms made by the dancers are universal. I notice it uplifts people, the audience members always tell us that they feel energized after the performances as if they want to get up and try it themselves.
Are you looking forward to touring China?
I am really looking forward to China as it has been a few months since I was last on the road so I tend to get itchy feet at home! In preparation I have been doing a lot of Bikrim yoga to keep my muscles flexible and strong and in the last few weeks have been increasing my exercise regime with regular trips to the gym and dancing a bit to shake off the cobwebs! It is important for us that we don’t stop completely when we are on downtime.
What is your exercise routine?
My exercise routines are pretty standard. To be honest my least favourite workouts are gym workouts where I am left to my own devices! I like to take classes at the gym like spinning or aerobics so there is an instructor encouraging the class! So when I am at home I combine these cardio classes with some light strength and conditioning.
However my favourite workout is BikrAm yoga. BikrAm is really good for dancers as the heat encourages flexibility. It also has a series designed for training your mind in endurance and commitment, so although you are working out physically it prepares you mentally too: all the core ingredients to ensure a happy tour! Prior to touring I have to increase my exercise routines so I try to dance as much as possible as I find the only was to get fit for dancing is to dance!
What will your schedule be like?
Our schedule in China will be very busy as we are visiting 26 cities in 10 weeks. So we are moving a bit more often than we are used to. China is so big that we will be taking a lot of internal flights rather than travelling by bus.
Will you get much time off?
We will have days off here and there throughout the ten weeks but we will also have most of our days free to explore the cities and take in the sights before showtime.
Are your family planning to visit you?
Unfortunately my family are not coming to visit this time, China is a bit far and our schedule will be so busy so I think I can just about survive the ten weeks!
How does that leave you for Christmas?
I will be eating Christmas dinner this year in Wuhan. It will be my first time being away from home for Christmas but my mum put on a Christmas spread in my honour in November so I got my yearly fill of turkey and stuffing!
Fondest memory of Riverdance
I have countless memories from my years with Riverdance that it is so hard to choose just one fondest memory.
One that sticks out was a show that we did in the Orchard Hall in Tokyo. It was closing night and we had been there for a month. Quite a lot of the audience were made up of people that had come numerous times to see the show while we were there and after the finale they stood and clapped and cheered long after curtain call. It was amazing.
Production were so worried that they would keep clapping for more that they sent out the male lead to take another bow, something I had never witnessed before in all my years with the show.
It was one of those moments where you realize you are apart of something special. It is also really nice to know that what you do for a living can have such a positive effect on other people.
For more information about Riverdance's upcoming shows, visit the show's website.