Dates: 28 September - 3 October 2004
: Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Reviewer: John Jane





Composer: Bill Whelan Producer: Moya Doherty

Back in 1995, dancers Jean Butler, Michael Flatley, and Mavis Ascot, choreographed Riverdance as an intermission number for the Eurovision Song Contest. Since then, the success of the internationally-acclaimed celebration of Irish song and dance has been nothing short of phenomenal. Butler and Flatley have long departed from Riverdance - The Show to pursue personal projects.

Though the soul of the current production is as deep as the froth on a pint of Guiness, it lacks nothing in terms of entertainment value. Riverdance still showcases original stepdancing, and its troupe of talented dancers are the heart of the show.

Framed in a pseudo-mythic tale of the Irish as an immigrant people transporting their rich culture to the adopted lands, the performance provided the opportunity to illustrate the direct relationship between traditional Celtic dance and contemporary forms.

The best demonstration of this was the dance sequence called "Trading Taps," featuring Aaron Tolson and Cory Hutchins improvising American tap dance, à la Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. The Americans playing off their Irish counterparts, was at times goofy and other times mesmerizing.

Far less effective, was flamenco dancer, Carmen Armengouís "Firedance" routine that started with taped Spanish guitar accompaniment and concluded with a fanfare of Gaelic fusion.





Niamh ni Charra:
Niamh Ni Charra

The showpiece of Riverdance is the Irish stepdancing. The visceral effect of watching twenty-one pairs of flashing feet in precise unison across the Queen Elizabeth Theatre stage was truly exhilarating. The lead female dancer, Melissa Convery, was as graceful as she was dynamic.

Interspersed with colourful dance routines were a generous handful of vocal and virtuoso instrumental performances. A highlight of the first act was a stellar performance by former electronics engineer, Niamh Ni Charra and the Riverdance band. Charra engaged the audience with her Irish charm, as she simultaneously danced around the stage playing her electric fiddle.

By virtue of its international theme, Riverdance has surely found the "pot-of-gold" at the end of the rainbow. Small wonder that audiences all over the world have kept coming back for more.

© 2004 John Jane