Dates and Venue 5 – 10 April 2011, 8pm (Sun evening 7:30pm, Sat and Sun matinees at 2pm) | Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer Michael Pink

In the performance world, there are no secrets to success. The spectacular international and Vancouver tour success of Riverdance is due to colorful choreography, brilliant innovation and incredible discipline. For fans of the Irish phenomenon Riverdance, it is not just a show but an experience. The evening performance was centered on two acts each with a unique theme.

The theme of Act 1 is primitive power. Our ancestors knew a more difficult world with survival based upon the elements of water, wood, fire and stone. Act 1 dramatizes the actions of the ancestral characters, through dance, in coming to terms with the world they faced.

Several riveting dance pieces are included in Act 1 such as Reel Around the Sun, the show opener, The Heart’s Cry, Thunderstorm, The Harvest, Firedance, and the namesake, Riverdance.

The Irish dance step choreography of Riverdance, by Mavis Ascott and Michael Flatley is captivating and dynamic. One is always impressed with Irish dance by the quick pace of the footwork and the extraordinary discipline and detail the dancers must master. Although Irish dance may have some similarity to folk dancing, it is in fact a highly sophisticated and technical form of dance.

Act 2 illuminates the experience of shattering ancient bonds and learning to adapt and accommodate the new world. It is about embracing a new form of courage and finding a place in the world. This represents the archetypal journey of both society and individual. Outstanding pieces in this Act included American Wake, choreographed by Michael Flatley; Harbour of the New World and Heal Their Hearts-Freedom.

The Finale was an extraordinary tour de force of dance featuring beautiful, energetic dance by a colorful ensemble whose diverse talent flowed with harmony. All members of the large cast deserve special recognition for technical and artistic talent that shines.

Particular standouts include Mark Alfred, a Dubliner by birth, whose drumming energized the evening. The precision of his talent is remarkable. He was the core that kept the performance moving. Matt Bashford enchanted the audience with the lyrical and sonorous sounds of the Uilleann Pipes which is a new experience for many North Americans.

Tap dancers Dewitt Fleming Jr. and Michael Wood, who also sang the solo in Freedom are beautiful performers to watch. The two lead performers were Joe Moriarty and Alana Mallon. Moriarty, an American from Ohio, was once ranked fifth in the world at the world dance championship level.

Mallon, the only Scottish dancer to be cast in a lead Riverdance role, is exquisite to watch. She started dancing at the tender age of three and has been dazzling audiences ever since. She was once ranked as one of the top ten dancers in the world championships.

© 2011 Michael Pink