Review: Riverdance at the Mayflower Theatre

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Inspiring

An incredible show that must not be missed.

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On Wednesday 3rd of December, hundreds of excited audience members poured into the Mayflower Theatre to watch the legendary show that is Riverdance. It has been twenty years since the first performance of this incredible show, which originated as a seven minute interval piece in the 1994 Eurovision song contest, performed by Michael Flatley and Jean Butler.

The show was simply astounding in every way, between Bill Whelan’s haunting score, the foot perfect choreography and the sheer power in the dancers’ legs, the show was composed of numerous elements that created an ultimately perfect show. The show exudes culture in every scene, telling a story of travels, emigration, and dance. Riverdance takes the show further than just the expected conventional Irish dancing, and presents a show case of flamenco, Russian, folk ballet and tap. Each of these styles of dance has its own originality, passion and flair from each and every dancer.

The first act presents the dancers telling stories though song and dance under the elements of fire and rain, such as scene ‘Thunderstorm’. In this scene the dominant male troop dance courageously under a thundering sky, tackling the forces of the elements, making music and rhythm with just their feet. This contrasts with the scene ‘American Wake’ in act 2, an upbeat and exciting showcase of skill from the female dancers, as they leap and skip through the air.  The second act of the show focuses mainly on the impoverished people who have suffered famine, war and slavery. However new life is found in this bonding of culture, as Irish and tap dancers battle it out under the dim city street lights. The tappers’ smooth street style brings something fresh and new to the Irish dancing scene as the two groups battle it out for the most impressive (and unbelievably fast) rhythm.

All too often, extras and back up dancers sadly fade into the background, but not in Riverdance. The passion of each of these dancers is clear through every moment of the show. They dance as if it is their first and last performance, giving every bit of energy to that moment. They are almost another character in their own right, dancing with such fierceness and sharp precision that the audience cannot take their eyes away. Every single one of these dancers is incredibly talented, many of whom hold a number of World championships and All Ireland medals from their many years of competing to earn them a place on the Riverdance stage.

However the people who really stole the show were leads Stephen Brennan and Alana Mallon. Brennan’s initial appearance is one highly anticipated by many who last saw Michael Flatley emerge side stage, bursting into passionate dance. However he certainly lived up to the name and legacy left behind by the original male lead. His strength and force in executing the steps makes it evident why he holds such a prestigious role. It is too often emphasised to male leads that they have ‘big shoes to fill’, referring to none other than Mr Michael Flatley himself. However this ‘challenge’ is hardly difficult at all to young, fresh dancers such as Brennan, as well as his fellow male leads: Bobby Hodges, Ryan McCaffrey, and Jason O’Neil. These dancers are capable of bringing all of the power, passion and strength to their performances that Michael Flatley did in his prime. The new question now certainly should be, ‘who is going to fill their shoes?’.

The stunning female lead Alana Mallon, a dancer with an impressive competitive dance history, and extensive experience with Riverdance, performs with such grace and beauty that her movements look almost frozen in time, which is simply mesmerising. Her performance exudes such humbleness and confidence at the same time. The music paired beautifully with Mallon’s exceptional rhythm quite literally fills the room with Celtic spirit. The other female leads, Siobhán Manson, Ciara Sexton and Emma Warren, performing as part of the troupe clearly possess the qualities of lead dancers, as their talent shines through their part time back up roles.

The most inspiring aspect about this tour being the 20th anniversary, is that this new generation of incredible dancers would have most likely watched Riverdance as young and aspiring Irish dancers. It is truly magical to watch the newest addition to the Riverdance legacy, each dancer possessing just as much energy and talent as the last. This is a show that must not be missed. It will leave you feeling inspired, empowered and passionate about everything that is music and dance.

Tickets for Riverdance can be purchased here.

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Former Film Editor for The Edge, second year history student, Irish dancer and film enthusiast. My biggest inspiration is by Bear Grylls. Yes Bear Grylls. Originally from West London.

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