In The Spotlight
Irish Dancing Magazine's Interview with
Gillian Norris of Troupe I
You can still order the July issue of Irish Dancing Magazine!

Gillian Norris joined Lord of the Dance as a principal dancer for the very first performance, three years ago. As Morrighan, the evil temptress, Gillian hs delighted audiences around the world and currently dances with Troupe I.

In this exclusive interview, we caught up with gillian between shows whilst she was on tour with Lord of the Dance in Israel.

IN THE BEGINNING...

When did you join Lord of the Dance?
Three years ago, after the All_Irelands, my teacher received a phone call asking if I would like to go for an audition. There were hundreds of dancers there, but I was picked to do the Royal Gala Performance. After only a couple of weeks, rehearsals for the show started. I never really sat down and thught about it, it all happened so quickly.

How old were you?
I was sixteen when I joined. Bernadette and I were the youngest at the time and before we joined the show we had been completely spoon fed --- we'd had everything done for us. When we all moved to Dublin and lived together, looking after ourselves, it was completely different. It was the best experience of my life. Now we're twenty, and it's amazing how much we've come on.

Did you know Bernadette Flynn before you joined Lord of the Dance?
We both danced Munster, but she was in the age group below me. We always met up at the competition but didn't really get to know each other until we joined the show.

What dance school did you attend?
The Higgins school in Waterford.

Why did you choose Lord of the Dance and not Riverdance?
Michael Flatley was always the person I looked up to. Both shows are amazing, but Michael was my idol, so I jumped at the chance to dance in the same show as him.

Click here to view Gillian's
Montage by Dani

THE DREAM COMES TRUE

What was it like when you first met Michael?
The first day he walked into the rehearsals everyone went silent. It was like, "Wow, Michael Flatley", and I was really scared. Then he said, "How are you, lads?" in an Irish accent and everyone laughed. No one would ever cross him though. Of course, if you are on your own with him you can have a laugh, and he is very ordinary but he's different when he's directing the show. Everyone is still very much in awe of him.

Was it difficult to learn the steps and moves you use in Lord of the Dance?
It wasn't that hard to grasp. We all had the basics thanks to our dancing teachers, but using our hands was difficult in the beginning. I think you can either do it, or you can't.

You have been dancing in the show for a long tim ebut do not seem fed up. How do you keep the role alive?
I keep adding new bits all the time, even if it's only a different jump or something.

 

CREATING MORRIGHAN

As you have been playing this role from day one, did you influence the development of the character?
Initially we were just given a storyline and the music was played to us. I was instructed to do whatever the music 'told' me to do, and to put my own actions to the steps. This worked well and everyone liked it.

How long do you spend on your hair and make up before a show?
It takes an hour and a half, that is unless it has to be done really quickly, when I can get it down to an hour, and maybe even half an hour!

What do you have to do to keep your hair in such great condition?
I'm lucky, my hair is very very easy to handle and as it's naturally curly, I don't have to spend time curling it. I used to use curlers to make my hair look neater when I was competing, but I don't need to do that now.
I make sure I have a hair cut everytime I go home so it doesn't split and always use good, expensive shampoos and conditioners. I also use a lot of cleansing treatments, because of all the mouse and hairspray we use. My sister is a hairdresser, so she is always finding new treatments for me to try. At the moment, I have a wax treatment, and one made from mud from the Dead Sea which is really good. I don't keep to any one product because it's bad for your hair, but I like 'High Hair' mouse by Wella, and Paul Mitchell products - especially their leave-in conditioner, and L'Oreal are good, too.


Do you ever wear a wig?
No, never. I don't have to. I'd be worried about it flying off and landing on someone in the audience!

What's the most important part of your make-up routine?
My eyes, as they have to look evil! Also my lips, which must be bright red. I never wore make-up before I joined the show, except a bit of foundation and some lip gloss. the first time I had to do my make-up one of the other girls showed me what to do. Since then I have always done my own make-up and I've got better and better at it. Until recently I always used Elizabeth Arden, which is lovely, but I fancied a change, so now I use Roc make-up.

LIFE ON TOUR

How do you keep fit?
When I'm at home I like to go to the gym,but I'm one of those people who never sits down. I think it's like that with all the dancers.

Do you have to watch what you eat?
I just eat everything. I want to keep healthy, and we have caterers who cook healthy meals, but I eat a lot of chocolate, especially before a show. I know it only gives you a short boost of energy but it does help...well, that's my excuse!

Do you have time for any sigh-seeing?
Yes, but you need to get up early to go visiting. Yesterday we went to Bethlehem. We went to see where Jesus was born and it was not at all like we expected, it was a cave. We also saw the Wailing Wall.

Where's the best place you have been to so far?
Australia was absolutely gorgeous. LA was great too becuase we went to the Academy Awards, and stayed in Hollywood. It was very glamorous.

Do you have a partner at home, or from the show?
Yes, my boyfriend is conor Smith. Connor was playing the lead in Lord Of The Dance in Las Vegas, but he has now returned to college. He deferred entry for a year, so had to leave when the year was up. It was very difficult to see him when he was in Vegas but now we're in Europe it's easier. He phones every day though!

Do you do many interviews?
Yes, we do quite a lot. Before I spoke to you, Bernadette and I were just laughing about the first live interview we ever did. It was TV in New York andwe had to toss a coin to decide who would talk into the microphone on a stand, and who would hold one. I lost and had to hold it which was terrible, I was so nervous I was shaking and couldn't hold still.

Is there anything you don't enjoy about your work?
It is very, very hard. We are away from home for a long time, and although you become very strong, I do get homesick. The only consolation is that 40-50 dancers are all feeling the same so everyone is brilliant about it.

THE NEXT STEP

When you were younger, did you ever think you'd be dancing as the principal dancer in such a famous show?
NO, I was doing work experience when I went to the audition and I wanted to be a beautician.

Would you have become a beautician if you had not joined Lord of the Dance?
I don't know. I really haven't had a chance to think about it because I was still at school when I auditioned, and you are always changing your mind at that age.

How long do you expect to stay with Lord of the Dance?
I'm very happy at the moment and haven't really thought about that.

What would you like to do next?
I would love to keep working on the stage. I've always wanted to be an actress, but that's just a dream!

 

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