Scene by Scene
In a primitive and powerful world, our ancestors knew fear and joy and fire, worked wood and stone and water to make a place they could call home. The first peoples knew the world as a place of power, their songs and dances and stories are negotiations with elemental powers. The first half of this performance shows them coming to terms with the world and with themselves.
The sun brings life and light and fire, the opening dance sequence celebrates this benevolent masculine power. The sun is the light of morning, exuberant and clear.
Original Choreography: Michael Flatley
There is also that other primeval mystery, the salmon swimming upstream, the blind urgings of nature, heart yearning to heart. We need and sustain each other; we keep this knowledge in song since the beginning of time.
Sensual, nurturing, independent and fierce, the power of women as they celebrate themselves, as they challenge men in a dance of empowerment.
Original Choreography: Jean Butler, Moscow Folk Ballet Company, restaged by Svetlana Malinna
A lone piper mourns Cú Chulainn, the implacable Bronze Age warrior, the great hero of Celtic myth.
The brute power of elemental forces, beyond human control, beyond human understanding.
Original Choreography: Michael Flatley
In ancient Ireland fire and pride and beauty come out of the south, from the land of the sun. The power of the sun invests itself in the passion of the dancer.
Original Choreography: Maria Pagés, Colin Dunne
The myth of Mad Sweeney, Suibhne or Shivna, haunts Ireland since mediaeval times. Driven by forces inside himself, outside himself, a man dances desperately in the power of the moon. The powers are cruel and arbitrary, female and savage.
New Choreography: Eileen Martin. Original Choreography: Moscow Folk Ballet Company restaged by Svetlana Malinina
The wheel of the seasons turns slowly, from harvest through dormant winter into the miracle of spring. New growth, exhilaration, the world turns and is made new again.
Our story begins in the evocation of the Riverwoman, it moves through the dawn of history as the river moves through the land. As the power of the river grows, as the barren earth becomes fertile, as men and women grow in their sense of themselves, our story rises until it floods the world in a vital, joyous riot of celebration.
Original Choreography: Mavis Ascott, Michael Flatley (Irish Dance Step Choreography), Jean Butler (Female Solo Choreography)
War, famine and slavery shattered the ancient bonds between people and place. Forced dislocations marked and altered the histories of the native peoples. As we came into history we learned to guard what we valued, to accommodate ourselves to others, to learn new ways of being ourselves, to embrace new kinds of courage. Cast out and momentarily orphaned, we learned to belong to the world.
From the mid-19th century, hunger and famine and ambition drove the Irish out of their home island, across the Atlantic to a New World. Lover parted from lover, families and communities were torn apart.
Original Choreography: Michael Flatley, Paula Nic Cionnath (Set Dance Consultant)
While those souls who were forced to emigrate were faced with the heartbreak of separation, their human spirit was often lifted by a defiant hope at the prospect of a new life.
The music and dance that forged a sense of identity are now exposed to new and unfamiliar cultures.
Ultimately, in the blending and fusion that follows, the emigrants find that the totality of human experience and expression is greater even than the sum of its many diverse parts.
From the darkness a lone voice sings and is then joined by other immigrants, reflecting the universal yearning of the dispossessed wherever they make their home.
The wealth of the poor is in song, dance and story. Under the street-lamps in the new cities the dancers perform with pride in their heritage, curious to see what other traditions bring, struggling to bridge the gap between old dreams and new realities.
Original Choreography: Colin Dunne, Tarik Winston
Meeting the new, what we learn first is that there is something familiar in what is strange, something strange in what we had thought familiar. A tune from another place, another lifetime, can turn and haunt in the heart.
Original Choreography Russian Dervish: Moscow Folk Ballet Company restaged by Svetlana Malinina
In the cauldron of the big city, the pulsing energy of the streets is reflected in the fiery Latin dance rhythms.
Original Choreography: Maria Pagés
The river flows full circle from sea to sky to mountain and back home. Collecting, gathering, arriving enriched, fulfilled, ready to start its journey once more.
Original choreography: John Carey Additional text adapted from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, Bill Whelan
For the first time in nearly 14 years, a new number has been created for the show. This number, called Anna Livia (after James Joyce’s personification of Dublin’s River Liffey) is an A Cappella number for the female Irish dancers with rhythms and additional text by Bill Whelan and choreography by John Carey. The number opens with a verse from Finnegans Wake set to music by Bill Whelan and is a tribute to the river that flows through the city where Riverdance was born and of course originally gave the name for the show! Anna Livia is also a tribute to the strength and grace of the female Irish dancers led by the female principal dancer.
Always the child of the emigrant feels the tug of the home place; always that child feels the urge to return. What she or he brings there is a sustaining knowledge: we are who we once were, we are who we have become.
With newfound confidence and pride, the child of the emigrant carries treasured memories home to their birthplace. A long journey ends under a native sky, a new and richer journey has taken its place.
Original Choreography: Michael Flatley, Colin Dunne, Jean Butler