Traditional Irish step dancing with rapid scissor-like movements leg movements and largely stationary body and arms, is featured on the theatrical show, Riverdance. The show Riverdance was first developed as intermission entertainment and was performed during the interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest on April 30 and the riveted live audience leapt to its feet and clapped with all its might at the grand finale.
Producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan knew they had a winner and expanded the little version into a full-length show. The first of all Riverdance opened at the Point Theatre on February 9, 1995 after the tickets were sold in Dublin in November 1994. The performance included Irish Dancing Champion Jean Butler and Michael Flatley who brought drama and energy to the show with their exquisite dancing. The show ran for five weeks and was a sell-out as the audience was simply blown away with the experience. Though current productions of Riverdance are half the size of the original performances, Riverdance continues to be performed all over the world with each production company named after an Irish river including the Boyne (touring in North America), Avoca and Foyle (in Europe).
The concept of Riverdance concert is both simple and adroit with a Celtic-looking rock-like setting resembling Stonehenge with highly colored projections to vary the look, a load of Irish music and a lot of Irish dancing. The success of irish Riverdance music is partly due to Moya Doherty's canny producing as all pieces are put together with breathtaking theatricality and John McColgan's swift, deft staging. The staging works like a computer but still manages to pervade an unexpected but not unpleasant impression of homespun charm over-riding, or perhaps over-dancing, its awe-inspiring efficiency, and its sweet and sure ability to deliver on every promise, implicit and explicit, suggested by the very idea of an Irish dance spectacular.
Indeed one goes to see 'Riverdance' primarily for the Irish dancing which always is the matrix of the show, for Bill Whelan's wonderful score and for the splendid Irish musicians. The only problem in Riverdance is that it is difficult to create and maintain a lively choreographic form out of Irish step dancing, which has a limited vocabulary, rigid arms, a stiff upper-body and an overall tendency towards exuberance rather than emotion. Just like an Irish stew that is awfully good in itself but would get monotonous if used as a constant diet. To overcome this, the performers have introduced Spanish flamenco and American tap dance into the mix as these two dance forms have common Irish steps to the extent of actual historic links. The result is lively foot tapping music and standing audience ovations.
A spellbinding spectacle, Riverdance is indeed something fresh and new, and something that America would take to its heart as Irish ethnic heritage is rooted in the United States from sea to shining sea. irish Riverdance music was welcomed warmly when it entered New York's Radio City Music Hall. The audience roared eagerly feeling the energy and passion flooding over the stage and enjoying the power and glory of the Irish folkdance.
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