Nowhere on any list of Claire Fallon’s defining characteristics — loves theater, promotes female empowerment, practices responsible stewardship of the earth — will you find “processes negative feedback well.”
And that itself goes a long way in explaining the rich life the 33-year-old director/actress/yogi/ farmer has built for herself.
While still in elementary school, Fallon told her mother that she wanted to take dance classes. Her mother, taking note of all the other activities Fallon was involved in — community theater, soccer, piano — put her foot down.
“She told me, ‘Not one more thing,’” Fallon recalls. “And when someone tells me I can’t do something, my reaction has always been, ‘Yes, I can.’”
And so Fallon salted away her lunch money until she had enough to pay for her own lessons, opening the door for studies in ballet, tap and jazz dancing.
Fallon had already secured a foothold in the performing arts through her involvement in community theater through Hawaii Pacific University, where her mother served as dean of nursing. Later, as a student at St. Andrew’s Schools, Fallon helped to found the school’s theater club and served as everything from lead actress to lights operator for a host of productions.
“(Theater) is an exploration of what it means to be human and an exercise in empathy,” Fallon said. “When I’m acting, I’m reminded that we’re all one with different aspects inside of us. We all contain multitudes, and we can draw on aspects of that through the roles we play.”
Fallon went on to study theater and religion at Skidmore College in New York, an education that also included international study in India, Nepal and Tibet.
After graduation Fallon told her parents that she wanted to train to become a yoga instructor, a notion that left her mother, who had invested heavily in
Fallon’s elite college education, somewhat aghast. There was no way they were going to pay for such a thing.
So, again, Fallon went to work for what she wanted, starting a court-preparation program for teenagers in Philadelphia serving inhome detention. The work helped to pay for Fallon’s studies in yoga, which in turn led her to another life adventure.
While on vacation in Puerto Rico, Fallon decided she had found the perfect spot to start a new yoga school.
“Everybody I talked to said, ‘No! You can’t just go on vacation and decide to start a yoga school.’”
Oh, yes, she could. Fallon spent three years in Puerto Rico building and establishing Culebra Yoga. Fallon said
her time there affirmed that she was indeed an “island girl” and that the island she needed to return to was Oahu.
Back in Honolulu a chance encounter with St. Andrew’s upper school Principal Jennifer Grems, who had long ago predicted Fallon’s return, led to a job as the school’s theater director and music and movement teacher.
In four years back at her alma mater, Fallon has distinguished herself as an energetic and inspired director whose commitment to helping young women discover themselves through theater has taken the program in new and interesting directions, including the staging of all-female productions like last year’s “Aladdin.”
Two years ago, inspired by a TED talk on the Go Farm program, Fallon decided to try her hand at community farming to help strike a better balance against her obligations as a director and private yoga teacher.
Today she leases a quarter-acre plot in Waimanalo to which she devotes upward of 20 hours per week raising pumpkins, corn, okra and other delectables that she sells to local restaurants.
“My goal is to stay ignited with passion and commitment,” Fallon said. “There are always new things to explore. The world is filled with cool, interesting things.”