I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into Riverdance, performing at the DPAC through this Sunday. Now in its 20th Anniversary year this is the production’s first tour in North America in four years and it was my first time seeing the show. I knew I was in for some great Irish step-dancing but what I and the rest of the packed audience got was that and so much more – resulting in an exuberant standing ovation at the end of Tuesday night’s show.
The performance is an exciting blend of dance, music and song. In honor of the 20th Anniversary, the show has new costumes, new lighting, new projections, and a new number. And while there is in fact plenty of Irish dancing throughout the show, there are also other wonderful numbers incorporating other dance styles like flamenco, tap, Slavic folk dance. Each dance number was nothing short of amazing and added its own unique flavor and energy to the show.
The athleticism of the the dancers is off the charts. I can’t even imagine the strength and control they need to execute the lightning speed footwork, seemingly effortless hops, and high angular kicks. At times it seemed like the dances legs and feet swiveled as if on ball bearings. I went in expecting great dancing but was also blown away by the live musicians performing on stage. There was a fiddler, saxophonist, percussion and a muilleann pipes and whistles. Each musician gets his chance to shine in their own dedicated numbers in between dances. The vocalists of the evening are equally as strong. The haunting soprano solos and chorus performances were lovely.
While each dance number provided its own special moment, the real heart of Riverdance is when the leads and full troupe of 20 dancers are on stage together dancing in a thunderous unison to the rhythms of the Irish old country. Of course the other styles of dance features had their magical moments too. The solo flamenco dancer brought the heat, and one of my favorite numbers of the night was the “dance off” between three Irish step-dancers and and the American tappers. It was a kick watching them trying to one-up and poke fun at each other. The energy level was high and the audience erupted into applause throughout the number marveling at their lightning speed, incredible rhythm, and amazing footwork.
I’m glad I had the chance to catch the show on its first return to North Carolina in years. Whether you’ve seen Riverdance before or you’re like me and catching it for the first time, this show has something for everyone and I recommend you get yourself a ticket before it dances its way out of the Triangle this weekend.
Riverdance plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center Tuesday through Sunday, June 12th. For more information and to order tickets visit http://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/riverdance.