Sitting in my hotel room in Changsha, it made me wonder about Riverdance in 1994 “back in the day” and how difficult it was keeping in contact with loved ones when lets face it, there were very little methods of overseas communication. Speaking to Niamh O’Connor, my dance captain and the only original dancer from the show from its inception, I try to gain an understanding of how things have changed. “There was no such thing as the internet. The only thing we could do was buy phone cards to phone home with…..
Riverdance Posts by Maeve Fearon
We were welcomed to Chengshu by a huge sign at the entrance to our hotel referring to us as “The Hoofers of Riverdance”. A girly afternoon followed as me, Nicola, Nicole and Fiona took a wander through the hutongs of Chengshu. Later that night after a long search for food, we were once again propped on little stools at an intriguing little family restaurant. We returned on the second night and although it is impossible to tip in China, we sneakily left double our bill amount (£6.60 for 6 people!!) and exited quickly.
We had a few great days in Heifei……we enjoyed some fantastic street food outside our hotel and were glammed and ready in preparation for Emma Warren and Niamh O’Connor’s birthdays. The local German bar named Bacchus was the party spot, chosen of course after much research on TripAdvisor (A note to anyone visiting, VPN for accessing Facebook, Twitter etc, TripAdvisor and any free translation app you can find are your best friends!).
After Zhengzhou, we were ready to brace the extreme cold of Inner Mongolia and arrived early afternoon to Hohhot. With temperatures as low as -21C, it was no surprise that the majority of the cast stayed indoors. Our talented physical therapist, Garrett Dockery fully embraced the weather however and went wandering. Not long later, he informed me he spotted a group of locals ice skating on the frozen pond and decided to join them..no bother to Garrett!
We were called in early for rehearsals and just a few hours later, we were on stage with no costumes, dancing shoes or proper sound system…just sheer, raw talent and a determination to provide entertainment to the best of our ability. We were also treated to the fantastic blind Chinese band who belted out tunes such as “Reel Around The Sun” from the show and it was a pleasure for all of us to witness this and songs from the talented Emma Warren and Ben Mapp. We even dragged audience members up for a ceili and taught “The Walls of Limerick”, a traditional Irish team dance.
When we are touring at Christmas, we organise what’s known as “Secret Santa”. Our Christmas Night party was spectacular. With a scrumptious feast of turkey and ham and not one, but three different desserts! We revealed our ‘Secret Santa’ identities. Since we are eight hours ahead, we waited until later in the night and many of us retreated to our rooms to make calls to home via Skype. It is difficult particularly at Christmas, being away from home. But with Christmas spirit in bucket loads amongst our cast and crew, we had such a lovely Christmas here in China.
The Guangzhou Zhonghshan Memory Hall was a sight to behold, a fabulous exterior and huge inside! With a full cast of experienced dancers and musicians, rehearsals were short and sweet and it was soon warm-up time for our first show of the tour in Guangzhou. With an expected audience of 12,000 people over the weekend, it was no surprise to walk out to a packed theatre. The reception we got was phenomenal and what Julian Erskine (Executive producer) described as “the best I have ever seen in China!”. It certainly was a good way to kick off what promises to be a fascinating and memorable tour.
It’s bittersweet as I finish the last step in the last number of the last ever North American Riverdance show. Some 6,000 people are on their feet in the fantastic outdoor arena at WolfTrap, Vienna and boy has it been a long journey!
As we neared the end of the last ever North American Tour of Riverdance, it was evident that the show will most certainly be missed. We have had the most amazing response here in North America and I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to the thousands of people who have come to see our shows over the past few months.
On Friday, we set off to St.Louis and this was a huge weekend for me as I was preparing to become the first female ever to perform ‘Trading Taps’ – a number in the show which sees the male American tap dancers trade off with the male Irish troupe. I went straight to the venue for my first sound check and this was certainly nerve-wrecking especially with the whole company watching. Thankfully it went well and I was more than ready for my debut on Sunday evening.