September 8, 2011
Maresa Manara, Eithadinflight Magazine, September 2011
I’ve managed to snare tickets to the phenomenon that has taken Irish culture across the world.
At the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, the thick velvet curtain is still drawn and the sold-out crowd silent in anticipation. A haunting Irish flute rings out through the old wooden hall and those famous dancers burst onto the stage, arms by their sides, nimble legs kicking in unison, feet deftly navigating the old boards. The dance is mesmerising, and when it’s done the audience can’t stop clapping.
During interval, I catch up with show’s senior executive producer Julian Erskine in the theatre bar. “I’ve been with the show from the very start,” he tells me over a cup of Irish tea. “I always said the day I get sick of it is the day I won’t come back in. But I love it. I’ve never yet been bored.”
Since wowing the world during an interval performance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, the stepdancing troupe has achieved massive international acclaim, but according to Julian the show hasn’t changed much in its seventeen-year run.
“The choreography and the music are sacred and we don’t change either of them. The biggest single difference is scale,” he says. “It’s a special show we put together each year in Dublin. This is our eighth summer and it’s very popular. A lot of people like to come and see the show here in its home town.”
“It is an extraordinary phenomenon,” he continues. “If we knew what the secret was, we’d have ten other Riverdance shows out there. It came together at the right time, with right people. It’s something you can’t recreate because these things have a magic about them. Riverdance introduced Ireland to people who never thought of coming here.”
Back to Johannesburg by popular demand
Eight extra shows at the Teatro