Interview with Jason O’Neill of “Riverdance”

Jason O’Neill is a principal dancer at RIVERDANCE. The show is celebrating the 20th anniversary. For those of you who have seen it, you can look forward to some new things! There is a new set design, lighting design and powerful female dance number called “Anna Livia”. They have a superb onstage band and the music is written by Grammy award winner ‘Bill Whelan’.

The Playbill Collector (TPC): How did you get your start in dancing?
Jason O’Neill: I come from a large family in Ireland. I have six sisters and I was the only boy. I used to bring them to class with my mum. One day I just stayed and never looked back. All my sisters quit but I kept dancing. I have been dancing for over twenty years.

TPC: When did you come to America?
JO: I still live in Ireland but I am touring North America with the show which is an adventure. My family all loves to travel so it’s nice to get out and see different places.

TPC: What’s your part in the show?
JO: I’m one of the male Principal dancers (lead male dancer). There is a principal female dancer as well and we perform a lot of solo and partner work. In some numbers, we dance with the whole troop and it is exhilarating.

TPC: How long have you been in the show?
JO: Since 2009 on and off. I took some time off to go to University. However, I love dancing and couldn’t stay away for too long.

TPC: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
JO: Before I do lead I get a massage. Thankfully we have a massage therapist on the road. Then I stretch, focus and listen to music. 30 minutes before the show I put my dancing shoes on and build up a good sweat.

TPC: Where is one of your favorite places you have been on tour so far?
JO: In the states, I love San Diego and once performed in Hawaii which was incredible. I love performing locally in Dublin because my family gets to come see it.

TPC: Any idea of what you would want to do if I weren’t dancing?
JO: My degree is graphic design so that interests me. I will always do something dance related. I can never give that up.

Any advice you have for someone who is interested in doing this?
Never forget why you dance. I dance because it’s part of my heritage and I am deeply passionate. Also, you have to work really hard at your craft and constantly evolve and improve.

For more about Jason, check out: www.riverdance.com

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