By Rick Woelfel
Even before she finished high school, Eira Glover knew she wanted to be a dancer. Nearly two decades later, her passion endures.
“Some people kind of drop off or burn out,” she says. “You’ve got to want it; you’ve got to want to live an alternative lifestyle and commit yourself to something.”
Glover’s passion for her chosen profession is evident in her portrayal of the Peacock Goddess, one of the major roles in the Cirque du Soleil production of Amaluna, which is playing through August 25 under the big top adjacent to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
The show features a blend of circus-type acts. Based more or less on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, it is set on the mythical island of Amaluna, which is ruled by goddesses (the cast is 70 percent female), including Queen Prospera, whose daughter Miranda is coming of age. When she meets a man who is one of a group washed onto the island in a storm created by her mother, the Peacock Goddess challenges her suitor and tests his commitment, sincerity, and love.
It’s a physically demanding role, one that requires that Glover prepare herself for seven or eight performances each week, plus run throughs. But over the course of her career she has worked to fine-tune her fitness regimen.
“I’ve learned how to that better,” the Montreal native says. “How to be well for the show, how to keep my body health, to keep myself interested. I’ve definitely gotten better at that.
“I would say earlier in my career it was more an attachment to a strict regimen which probably comes from the ballet background where you have that ballet class daily and without that, you just can’t imagine how you could stand or how you could function.
“And then, over the years there were different demands, depending on the just being able to listen to my body; ‘Is this the moment when I need to push it? Okay do that yoga classic, even though I don’t feel like it,’ or do some weight training or cardio. Or is this a moment when I need to pull back, maybe just spend an extra hour stretching, doing something more restorative.”
On performance days in Oaks, Glover starts her day with a 25-minute bike ride from her accommodations to the venue. She might do an hour of yoga (she is a yoga instructor when she’s not on the road).”
After that she’ll eat a light meal and put on her makeup, and then, just prior to show time, do a series of exercises.
“Maybe three sets of five exercises each,” she says, “stressing various parts of my body that I’m sensing more than other parts.”
The show runs just over two hours, including a 35-minute intermission. During the interlude, Glover will do some additional fitness work.
“I’ll usually use that to train something else I’m working on,” she says. My handstands, or maybe just do some ab work, or roll my body out on the roller and some balls, or just keep it moving through some improvisation.”
All this physical training helps Glover maintain her physical and mental energy over the course of a performance schedule that features seven or eight performances each week, but it also helps her convey the emotion that is central to her character. The Peacock Goddess is not one to be trifled with.
“Keeping it fresh, the emotional turmoil that the Peacock goes through,” Glover said. “I want to believe myself. I think only if I believe myself will the people watching be transported somewhere and potentially touched.”
For Amaluna showtimes click here.