Interview – Alanna Baker [Cirque du Soleil] [OVO]

Last week, Cirque du Soleil launched its first UK arena tour of OVO with a star-studded premiere at the Echo Arena Liverpool.

Following the Liverpool run, OVO brings its fun-filled family production to arenas across the country, including dates in Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and finally Belfast.

To coincide with the launch, we caught up with the UK’s own Alanna Baker – 2011 gymnastics European Champion and 2012 World Championships bronze medalist – who plays the role of the Black Spider in the show, to discuss the production, her role in the show and her amazing career to date.

Tell us a little about your background. When did you first start in gymnastics?

I started in gymnastics from a very young age. It was part of my life ever since I can remember. I trained in normal gymnastics to start with and then at the age of 7 they asked if i wanted to try out Sports Acrobatics, I loved it and this is what I stuck with until I retired at 19. I represented my country many times which for me was a goal of mine. I became Women’s Pair European Champion 2011 and bronze medalist at the World Championships 2012. 

 How did you get involved with Cirque du Soleil?

My life long dream first started when I saw my first Cirque show when I was 8 years old, I said to my parents ‘that’s what I wanna do when I’m older’. Of course back then I had a way to go but I liked to dream big. I continued to train and then just after I finished competing there was a closed audition held at my gym. I got onto their database and then waited, continuing to train in the meantime. 6 months after I’d finished competing I had a call from Cirque du Soleil asking if I wanted to join. April 2012, I finished competing and ran away with the circus October 2012. 

Tell us a little about the show?

It’s all about the day in the life of an insect and amongst that a love story occurs. The message deep within the show is also about acceptance. We’re all different insects but we work together and support the whole colony! OVO is such a fun, happy, loving family friendly show. I always say there’s stuff for everyone. Whether you’re 6 years old or 60 it works for all.

What are your main responsibilities as dance captain?

As dance captain, I have to make sure that the choreography of the show is up to scratch. Spacing, timings, cleanliness etc. Also when new artists come in I’ll teach them the choreography until they’re show ready. 

What is it like travelling with the circus?

I never feel like I’m working, it’s crazy. I get to do what I love and travel the world at the same time. It takes me to places I wouldn’t necessarily visit also which is great. 

How much training and rehearsal goes into a Cirque du Soleil production?

There are always a lot of training and rehearsals happening, keeping the show fresh, there has to be. Keeps people on their toes too. Training wise people usually have anywhere between 2-5 trainings, constantly trying to build and improve their skills and acts. 

What can people expect from OVO?

A whole lot of colour, love, happiness, fun, music and incredible acrobatics, it’s guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. 

Do you have a favourite part of the show?

As cringe as it sounds… Every time I’m on stage is my favourite part of the show. I love to perform, put a smile on peoples faces and forget about their worries for a couple of hours. 

You’ve toured around the world. Where have been your favourite places to visit?

Australia and Japan have been my highlights for me. 

What advice can you give to those wanting a career in the circus?

Continue to work and train hard, put in that dedication, commitment and perseverance. Everything you believe in and dream in will come true if you put in the work. Nothing worth having comes easy. 

Cirque du Soleil brings OVO to arenas around the UK from 16 August – 7 October 2018

For more information, and to book tickets, please Click Here.

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