THE STAR IS THE ENSEMBLE
Riverdance - the Farewell Tour 2012
Brendan de Gallai, Dance Director
Bill Whelan – Composer; Moya Doherty – Producer; John McColgan – Director; Julian Erskine – Senior Executive Producer; Robert Ballagh – Set Designer, Joan Bergin – Costume Designer, Michael O’Gorman – Sound Designer, Benjamin Pearcy – Lighting Designer
at CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch
From 7 Jun 2012 to 10 Jun 2012
[First half 45 mins Interval 20mins Second half 70m]
Reviewed by Elizabeth O’Connor, 8 Jun 2012
Riverdance was composed by Bill Whelan, directed by John McColgan, produced by Moya Doherty, with choreography by company members, and it started touring the world in 1994. As a show about Irish culture, and Ireland's place in the world, Riverdance has been sensationally successful, and has apparently encouraged a new generation of Irish dancers and new pride in Irish music and performance. As a show about culture and its role in a changing world, however, Riverdance has less to offer.
Praise to the band - Guy Rickarby, Patrick Mangan, Martin McCormack and Ken Edge - who are superbly skillful and roused even the snow-chilled Christchurchaudience to clapping and yelling in time. Outstanding delivery of solos was balanced by brilliant ensemble work. The curtain calls should have included a band call.
Praise also to the dancers, who executed their roles with amazing athletic precision. The transitions from Irish traditional dance to Spanish flamenco, to American hoe-down and to New York tap (and others, I am sure) were effortlessly made and took the audience from awe to delight and laughter throughout the performance. The straight-down arms and metallic feet of the Irish dancers coupled with the strong angles of European dance positions were a powerful invitation to us to think how we use our bodies.
To name individual dancers would start a laborious process, so I won't do more than name those who really stood out to me, for their emotional commitment as well as their skill: Rocio Montoya, Kelly Isaac, Liam Ayres. But all the soloists performed to a high standard. The star was really the ensemble – the audience loved it when everyone was on stage.
Riverdance claims to be the story of a journey. The story is not coherently told. Episodes of brilliance explode upon us, but there is not a narrative overview. I guess this is the story of Ireland. It has been a victim too often to take on a controlling idea of its own history.
I loved the stage show, and felt both glad and grieved by its vagaries.
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