Meet Alanna Baker (OVO Black Spider), Part Deux

Alanna Baker was just eight-years-old when she decided she wanted to join the circus.

She was watching the Cirque du Soleil perform at the Royal Albert Hall with her parents in London when she thought to herself: “I want to do that.”

Almost 20 years later, she is now living out her childhood dream.

A European and World bronze medal-winning gymnast, who was born in Redhill, Alanna is currently travelling the world playing the Black Spider in Cirque Du Solei’s insect-themed show Ovo.

Alanna started out as a gymnast, having trained since she was five-years-old.

She was crowned gymnastics European Champion in 2011 and won Bronze in the World Championships in 2012.

It was around that time that Cirque Du Soleil approached her.

“I had a closed audition at my gym in 2012 with Cirque du Soleil and then they brought me on board to join Ovo,” said Alanna.

Described as a celebration of nature and co-existence, Ovo features 50 performing artists from 17 different countries specialising in various acrobatics.

Many of the cast perform as bright and colourful bugs in the show.

As Alanna made the jump from gymnast to circus performer, she said it was initially tricky making the transition.

“You’re not training for one competition anymore – we have got to perform day-in day-out,” she said. “That takes a lot of adapting to improve.”


Alanna, the only UK performer in Ovo, began on the show playing a flea before being given the role of the Black Spider.

She says it takes a lot of research to take on these insect roles and mimic their movements: “If I saw a spider on the street, I used to flick it away. Now I watch and study it,” she said.

“Most of the research though is done by watching videos and speaking to the other performers though.”

Due to the acrobatics involved, her role as the Black Spider involves intense levels of training.

“I do a workout in the morning every day for an hour and a half before work,” she said. “We then do between seven and 10 shows per week.”

Despite performing in front of thousands of people on a weekly basis, Alanna says she rarely gets nervous – except when there’s someone she knows in the audience.

“I can perform in front of 6,000 people easy but as soon as there’s someone I know in the audience I get nervous – it’s such an adrenalin rush,” she said.

“It’s fun watching people’s reactions in the audience though. Some are scared by my character, some are intrigued. Each audience is different though so it keeps it fun and interesting.”

Since she’s joined the show, she has travelled to countries such as Australia, Taiwan and Japan with her fellow performers, who she describes as her second family.

“It’s crazy,” she said. “I’m living the dream, seeing the world and visiting places I never thought I’d visit.

“We’re just like a big family. We do everything together which helps when you’re away from home so much.”

{ SOURCE: Get Surry | }