River Dance. As a child I used to sit and watch my grandparent’s VHS of Michael Flatley’s feet whiz by as he stepped and jumped to the music of the River Dance. I loved to imagine myself as one of the beautiful and petite dancers, twirling and tapping and curtsying with such grace. Finally I got the chance to see the show live at the Grand Arena, Grand West Casino and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed.
Traditional Irish dancing has been a pastime for centuries and over the years has evolved into what we know today. As part of their South Africa tour the River Dance cast and crew have set anchor in Cape Town since yesterday and will continue to wow its audience until 27 February.
The venue was packed and as the house lights turned low there was an expectant hush over the crowd. The opening scene was an indication of the show that would unravel before us. The dancers, solemn and focused pounded the stage floor in unison and the lively, upbeat music got foots tapping in the audience.
Over the next two and a half hours we experienced the talents of a passionate violinist playing her craft like it was her last performance, a sweetly-voiced singer who captured our hearts and a myriad of emotional dances. The somber but beautiful solo performance by the Spansih dancer and the bagpipe player were two of my favourite acts. Elements of military, love, Spanish flamenco and even jazz tap were explored and moulded onstage as the talented dancers whisked across the stage and back again.
The traditional costumes were beautiful to see and added to the notion that we were witnessing a pure piece of Ireland right here in Cape Town. The men stood upright as the woman flicked their hair in the all too familiar gesture that is the River Dance way.
The choreography of each dance whether it was a single woman or the entire group onstage was powerful and precise. It was very noticeable when a dancer was out of step but thankfully that happened just once or twice throughout the show. It was clear that these performers have been practising their craft for many years.
One thing that bothered me was a lack of storyline. Each new dance or skit seemed unrelated to the last, and as I recall that’s not what the River Dance story is about. It seemed as if the narrative was non-existent and rather in its place was a higgledy-piggeldy mixture of acts. But each act was incredible to watch. The passion and energy of the dancers and the musicians was enough to get the grannies and grampas clapping their hands in time to the beats.
I really had a wonderful time and still have the image of the long line of dancers, poised perfectly and ready to dance as one. I strongly suggest that everyone go and see the show.
Image via Stock.xchng.
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