Riverdance - the Farewell Tour 2012

CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch

07/06/2012 - 10/06/2012

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

29/05/2012 - 03/06/2012

ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

22/05/2012 - 27/05/2012

Production Details


The Moy Company – Australia & New Zealand Cast
Principal Dancers

Maria BuffiniSiobhan MansonLauren SmythLiam AyresPadraic MoylesJason Oremus
Irish Dance Troupe
Niamh O’Connor (Dance Captain), Peta AndersonLiam AyresMaria BuffiniKarl CallaghanShona CobbeGarrett ColemanRachel Downey,Siobhan MansonJames Keating, Shaun Kelly, John LonerganYvonne McNelisAisling McVeighPadraic MoylesChristopher NaishJason OremusPatrick O’MahonyLouise O’Sullivan, Deirdre O’ReillySean ReganLauren SmythAnne TonerEmma Warren.
Rocio Montoya
Freedom Soloist
Michael E. Wood
Kelly Isaac & Michael E. Wood
Guy Rickarby (Drums/Percussion/Bodhrán/Musical Director), Ken Edge (Saxaphone), Pat Mangan (Fiddle) & Martin McCormack (Uilleann Pipes, Tin Whistle, Low Whistle)

First half 45 mins Interval 20mins Second half 70m

The star is the ensemble

Review by Elizabeth O’Connor 08th 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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A ravishing river of life and lament

Review by Jennifer Shennan 01st Jun 2012

It’s a pity this programme is titled Riverdance because many folk have seen that show, more than once, and might think they never need to see it again. Hurry to book a ticket then come back and read why you should.

The dancers are young, beautiful, happy and brilliant, the musicians spirited, gifted, gorgeous. The love of Ireland and her history is what energises them, a world away from dancing because you’ve been told what steps to do.

Episodes of flat-tack hard-shoe footwork crack out the rhythms of survival, then sweet soft-shoe lightens the night. Spider-leg high jumps alternate with teasing on tiptoes, and crossover ankles sway as if windborne.

Turns are clean and swift, group forms appear then disappear. There’s Limerick, Galway and Glencolmcille in the air, and a few kelpies to be seen in the shadows here and there.

Poems accompany images of  Ireland, and songs are never far. A new life can be had by immigrants, but only at a price.  The prison ship lies waiting in the bay, and those who left on coffin ships will never be forgotten.

Each fresh dance or lovely song grows from these themes. 

Pitting old Irish dance against new jazz in America., with two fabulous tappers recruited, proves hilarious. But that’s just a fake battle, like all real street dance, and everyone’s the winner.

The saxophone holds its own against the marvellous mix of Irish pipes, fiddle and bodrun.

And then there’s Rocio Montoya, from Granada. Her flamenco solos are as pure and fine and fiery, with arms as eloquent and poetic as you could wish for … an exquisite dancer. 

A cheeky trick to have her Spanish dance done to Irish instruments, but with rhythm this strong, you can’t go wrong.

There was a heartfelt lament on fiddle, in front of a giant moon, though it looked like Earth. You could make out New Zealand and Ireland …. and, in between, Qatar (where this dance company has an office), where a Wellington family has just lost three babies in a fire

No words, only a lament through which we share their grief. 


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Farewell, Riverdance

Review by Raewyn Whyte 23rd May 2012

Riverdance has been touring the world since 1995, introducing millions of people to Irish dance and music traditions adapted for spectacular stage show presentation.

Over the years, the cast has been as large as 80, with dancers and singers in different squads, and all music played live.

In these recessionary times we have a slimmed down cast, with just 27 highly accomplished dancers who also sing beautifully, and a fabulous four-piece Irish band (Bodrahn and percussion, Uillean pipes and whistles, fiddle, saxophone) supplemented by backing tracks.

There’s also some audio assistance which ensures the singing and tapping and stamping of feet throughout the show is easily heard.

The dancing is vigorous and jaunty, rhythmically precise and highly disciplined, with rapid footwork in soft shoes, or in hard shoes beating out the rhythm against the floor much as tap dancers do.

Read the full review here


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The original content minus the contagion

Review by Margi Vaz 23rd May 2012

It was in 1992 that I discovered Celtic music. A Scottish band called Iona recorded a couple of albums that I found evoked emotion I had not experienced before. I discovered pounding drums and the Irish Bodrahn in Auckland pubs and with them teenage girls in soft shoes leaping and floating as they performed reels and slip jigs. It was a spiritual sort of experience for me and I envisioned producing a show with pounding drums followed by a quiet high female singing a celtic ballad. I bought a tin whistle but never learnt to play it.

In 1998 or was it 1999? (I’m not sure) Riverdance toured New Zealand for the first time. It had fast become an international phenomenon. My ticket put me row four, left front of the Aotea Centre. It was an impacting spectacle. I remember the power of tapping feet in unison, then a quiet high female singing a celtic ballad. I could not believe it. It was like my vision come to life. The Flamenco dancer was swathed in red flames (–and at a time when AV was not the norm for a dance show). The musicians seemed to dance in the orchestra, with a collection of ethnic creations I had not seen before.

In 2001 a friend invited me to bring my four-year-old daughter to an Irish dance class and when I arrived I discovered that the mothers danced too. Within three weeks they had me performing in a club with them. It was fabulous! When the class stopped running I ordered videos form Ireland and taught myself the steps. Irish music and dance was enriching my life and memories of Riverdance were an important stimulus.

Fast-forward to 2012 and I have been anticipating experiencing the phenomenon again. I feel cautious. I have seen quite a few spectacular shows since 1999 and I don’t want to be disappointed by familiarity. I want to be wowed again. It is the first time in nine years that the pounding feet and Irish music of Riverdance, is touring New Zealand.

I know that the show has continued to tap its way onto world stages thrilling millions of people around the globe with its fusion of Irish and International music and dance.The energy, the sensuality and the music have been blended into a highly polished spectacular stage show.

But will RIVERDANCE, in these recessionary times with a slimmed down cast, featuring only 27 performers (up to 80 have been seen previously) who dance and sing, and an exceptional band – but only four are live (violin, soprano saxophone, percussion and Bodrahn, Uillean pipes and whistles) with use of backing tracks behind – will they still wow me?

The troupe with their impressive array of talents, come from around the globe, and has become an international phenomenon. Touring since 1995 the show still showcases much of its original material. Choreographies by Michael Flatley are still used and composer Bill Whelan’s Grammy Award-winning music and lyrics is memorable.This latest version of the production I know is without the Russian segments, but has kept the Flamenco dance and the show seems to be shorter and faster moving by all accounts.

Finally I am in the theatre. So here’s my thoughts.

The precision, grace, and athleticism of the dancers are phenomenal. Often nothing moves except their legs and feet and those appendages are a blur of precision! As singers they are equally polished and wonderful, and ethereal harmonies abound. The highly talented musicians would be hard to match any where in the world. What am I unsatisfied about I muse?

From beginning to end dancers weave effortlessly, forming perfectly sharp lines and symmetrical patterned formations. Women float across the stage in the slip-jig, and are sensual and delightful as they tease the male dancers. The effective use of lighting enhances the performers’ locations in space and their execution of movement. Costumes are rich in texture and colour and emerald green and smokey blues are gorgeous. Dry ice used on stage seems to leap up and dance with the lights and the performers. Martin McCormack plays the Uilleann pipes with ease – a feat in itself – and the violin player Pat Mangan moves around the stage in his own lovely stepping pattern and swinging slim hips. In this sense it is a spectacle and an experience.

But it is missing the contagious energy that I felt in the 1990s. It cannot seem to touch me in the same way. So I wonder why that is… and here are my reflections:

The cutting back of the orchestra and use of backing tracks is a disappointment. The sound is great, but the visual interaction has gone. The show seems to have only started and we are at half time. I am not satisfied. The dance pieces are so tightly choreographed and rehearsed that there is no spontaneity or improvisation at all. Each vignette is short and there isn’t time to develop ideas or characters – except in the extended sequence involving guest performers Michael E Wood and fellow American guest tapper Kelly Isaac.A feel that a connection with the performers is only occasionally transmitted to the audience, although this is a receptive and appreciative audience.

It has been said that few shows have touched audiences like RIVERDANCE. But as new generations are discovering Riverdance, in this tour, will they be inspired to take Irish dance lessons themselves? I hope so, but I’m not convinced of it.


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