Riverdance

May 31st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I have always had a weakness for the Irish. I think it is their accents. At my university hostel there was a girl called Karen Quinn, who was Irish, and half the hostel had a crush on her – pretty much all due to her lilting accent.

So when I got offered review tickets to see the Irish dance sensation Riverdance, I didn’t need any persuasion to go. They are performing at the St James until 3 June, and then in Chch 5 to 10 June. The performance consists of 19 scenes in two acts, making it a compact two hour show (including interval).

There is a reason that Riverdance is a global sensation – they put on a world class performance. The dancing, which is the heart of the show, is sublime – but the music, the costumes and the singing are also very well done. They do around a dozen costume changes.

The 19 scenes each tell a story, and the costumes and special effects all combine together in harmony. I won’t detail all the scenes but will talk about what was by far my favourite scene. It was what I think of as the “dance off”, and they call “trading taps”. You have two “gangs” of dancers who at first dance alone, but then noticing each other confront each other as in their distinct styles dance into each other’s territory. This is fun enough, but the real hilarity starts when the two groups start to do parodies of the other’s dancing styles. Most of the audience were cracking up with laughter at this scene. It really is too funny for words.

Also worth noting is the scene with the lead male dancer in tight leather pants. God knows how one can dance wearing them, but he did. And the female members of the audience appreciated the spectacle greatly. The men, less so.

While a great performance overall, there was one aspect that didn’t quite resonate with me. There was quite a bit of time where it was just music, without dancing. People came to see the dancing, and you lose interest a bit when there are segments with music only. The exception was when they had the lead female singer on. Her voice was piercingly beautiful, and she could do a solo show.

Overall it was a great night’s entertainment. It is their final tour of New Zealand so it was great to see them for the first and sadly probably the last time.

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