Riverdance Blog

Company Manager Laurie Small on tour with Riverdance

Laurie Small, Company Manager, Corrib Company

The end of January saw us, back again in Germany, in Freiberg, one of the cities from my first tour and I remember the office well because I had a window with a stunning view of the mountains; this is a rarity. Normally the company office is a in a bunker somewhere in the depths of the venue.

This time round I again had an office with a window – but a coach was parked outside of it all day.

On to Innsbruck. A challenge for the production crew, the venue did not open on time for the load-in, and the stage was built in the wrong position and was lower than the desired height. Therefore, the forward planning goes out the window and compromises have to be made.  But the show goes on and no one is any the wiser about the problems and the team deliver on time yet again.

Most of us made the trip into the Tyrol on the cable car, the view back down into Innsbruck took in the airport. As it is surrounded by mountains the aircraft have to swoop in and out at an alarmingly steep angle. Sometimes it’s nice to be travelling by bus.

We had a few days break before opening in Saarbrucken. Several of the crew experimented on the ski slopes and other company members rented a cottage near Lake Constance.

The days in Saarbrucken and Munich fly by – most of us make the trip out to the concentration camp at Dachau. The camps are now monuments to the horrors of WW2. They are there for us to learn from and not forget, the visit is very sobering, the weather turned cold as soon as we left Munich for the 20 minute train ride. At one point we stood on the parade ground and experienced the cold the prisoners must have felt for hours on end.

Saturday 23rd Feb – Vienna

At least once a tour I like to get out and see the full show. So on the Saturday night in Vienna I sat in amongst the packed audience to watch.  I am occasionally asked why I think the show has lasted so long and I come up with some quick comment, but half-way through tonight’s performance it is just so obvious. The show is fast paced, has memorable music, joy, sadness and the comedy of Trading Taps. Shivna still sends a shiver down my spine and I admire the way the male Russian dancer flips over on one hand when I sometimes have difficulty standing on two feet. Tonight’s Irish leads Alan Scariff and Carla O’Brien exuded confidence and beam through the show.

This week the company says goodbye to Niamh O’Connor, the last of the original Riverdance troupe members – she is off for a break before joining back up for the Foyle – and we say hello to Bobbie Ann Dunn from America.

We also had visits from Robert Ballagh  (Set Designer) and Mick O’Gorman (Sound Designer) this week; they come out to make sure that exacting standards they set are still being met and they both go home completely satisfied that the show is up to scratch.

In addition, we get to hear of possible plans for dates in China, to run after the Japanese tour.

Monday 25th Feb – Vienna to Bayreuth

Oh dear, today’s travel day proved to be a black day. We had a slightly earlier start time than normal for our trip from Vienna to Bayreuth, which was to take us about 8 hrs. Coach drivers have restrictive driving rules; a max total of 11 hrs on duty in one day. Today we could have had a tight call if you add the time from reporting to the hotel, loading baggage, the journey and then the arrival and then parking, especially if we hit any bad traffic. So there was no time to wait for anybody. At 5 mins before departure time, we were 3 down and no replies from their rooms. With time running out I am afraid the decision was easy. We went at 10:05. At 1:00 pm I get a call “sorry we overslept but have booked trains and will see you later” Bayreuth is not an easy train journey and they arrive at 11:30 pm, Next day its time for a verbal warning about punctuality, though I suspect their enforced train journey may have been punishment in itself.  As the Japanese show us each time we tour there, for the best results in anything, it’s much better if people think more about the group than about themselves.

Today we left Bayreuth at 9:00, miserable wet morning. We expect to arrive in Dortmund at 3:30, Check in and then get everybody to the venue for 5 pm for a show tonight.

Friday 14th March – Malmo to Aalborg

Feeling melancholic this morning, it is our last bus call for city-to-city travel, Malmo to Aalborg, an early start and off at 9 am for a show this evening in Denmark.

A final head count and a look into some of the faces seen just about every day for the last 6 months and knowing that next week, I will be missing them all, this extended family of Riverdance.

Last night in Malmo we played an additional show to the planned schedule, the original 2 shows had  sold out a month ago and we had the opportunity to add last nights performance – we had 3 great audiences in Malmo – this tour we have brought the show out of the major cities and is has certainly been rewarding.

Yesterday we had another visit to a local school – there was no Irish dance culture in the school and so I was a little nervous on how we were going to present this.

Ellie Maguire, Chloey Turner, Orla Griffin and Damian O’Niell came along. We had lunch and were shown around a very friendly relaxed school with pupils from 6 – 16.

The first group consisted of 40 15 – 16 year olds (mostly boys) and watching Ellie work with them and the results she achieved was fantastic. She has such a talent for teaching. The team gave a short demonstration and then another 50 6-7 year olds arrived.  Watching all these kids in two big circles going through the steps of a simple Reel with 4 Riverdance troupe amongst them was memorable – plenty of smiling faces. Thanks to Aidan O’Reilly for the invitation.

Congratulation to Orla Griffin and Caterina Coyne who passed their teachers exams.

China has been confirmed with Beijing and Shanghai in late July.

We had a great team this tour, Niamh Eustace, Alan Scariff and Alexey Sukharev as Dance Captains.

Conor McCarthy and Tony Clark kept the cast on ice and keeping the injured dancing.

Sammy Murphy, a new boy, who has taken control of the soundboard, the only time he can stay still.

In addition, we say goodbye to our Stage Director, Niall Connoly who is joining a production of Mary Poppins – this man need therapy.

The rest of the company ………  you were GREAT too.

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