First South Africa Tour Review - Riverdance

First South Africa run for iconic show suggests that the original is best

RIVERDANCE has become something of a victim of its own success.

BRUCE DENNILL, CITIZEN Citi Vibe, 31 Jan 2011

“Cultural phenomenon” status is wonderful, but when that means seeing Irish dancing moves in every spoof movie of the last five years, it starts to eat away at your credibil-ity (And you can’t really blame the filmmakers when part of your traditional dance movement is to pull a Hercules pose every so often…)

Also, the many spin-off shows — Rhythm Of The Dance, Lord Of The Dance, Spirit Of The Dance, Jou Dans Se Moer (okay, so one of those was made up) — have meant that many audiences have hit saturation point as far as this particular format is concerned.

This show features the real deal, with the Riverdance Irish Dance Troupe backed by the Riverdance Band.

There are no trademark signs emblazoned on the stage backdrop, but you get the point. Perhaps the marketing gets under your skin up-front, but it does seem that this cast have the edge on their competition in terms of the precision of their steps and the excellence of the many musicians (apart from the four-piece band, there are gorgeous, intricate offer-ings from the Riverdance Singers that add to the spectacle).

The show is structured so that everyone — bar drummer Guy Rickarby, who is tickling and tapping his bewildering array of equipment throughout — gets a rest from time to time. Given the beating that the dancers’ bodies must take in the course of a single show— never mind a long tour — this is essential.

It does occasionally slow the flow of the piece, but it does mean that audiences get an opportunity to appreciate some hauntingly beautiful music, something they may not have catered for when buying a ticket with the word “dance’ on it. Eamonn Galldubh’s Uilleann pipes solo is particularly memorable. One sticking point is that the backing throughout the show is part recorded and part live. It’s always noticeable, and so be-comes a niggle if the levels on a singer’s or dancer’s microphone (the latter are hidden inside the dancer’s shoes) aren’t exactly right. That said, the cast operates as a well-oiled machine. Marks don’t get missed, and consistently high energy levels mean that the atmosphere remains charged from beginning to end. Truthfully, the storyline behind the many changing scenes is both hard to keep up with and not terribly compelling, but that’s not why you attend the show, and the dancing and playing is absolutely world-class.

VENUE: Teatro, Montecasino, until February 20

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