August 14, 2014
I recently came across this quote ‘ When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way’ -Wayne Dyer. Although we do need to hit certain marks on the floor, we certainly enjoy every step of it.
We have come to the end of a crazy and tiring but exciting and uplifting week. The female troupe started rehearsals last Monday for a brand new number called ‘Anna Livia’ which is based on work by James Joyce. The name Anna Livia is a personification of the River Liffey which runs though the city of Dublin. Anna Livia is also the name of a character in James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake who embodies the river. It is a perfect name for a new number in the show. On the banks of the River Liffey in a studio 20 years ago Riverdance first came to life and 20 years on just like the river it is still flowing as strong as ever.
When we got to rehearsals on Monday morning we didn’t have a clue what to expect.. We met with choreographer John Carey in the Riverdance studio, which was to be our home for the next few days. John explained to us that the wonderfully talented Composer Bill Whelan had sent him some rhythms and some time signatures to work with. We got stuck in straight away and although the timing was quite difficult to master at first, I think it is fair to say we done quite a good job for day one!
Each day we continued to working hard on the steps and then started to work on some formations and setting the staging positions, Mark Alfred drummer extraordinaire also came in so he could get used to the timing of the piece. During all this RTE 10 pop in too to talk to John Mc Colgan, our director about Riverdance 20 years on and about the new number, you can watch the interview here
On Friday we moved to the Gaiety stage. This is were you really got to see the number coming to life. This was the first time Bill had seen the dancers to it too. As to be expected with any new number there was a little bit of chopping and changing to be done. Bill wanted certain words in the number to emphasised by the dancers footwork so John Carey was on hand to sort that out, Mark also had a bit of changing to do on the drums too but nothing to drastic from the original.
We had two shows Saturday and Sunday so that left little time for rehearsals, so it was back to the grind stone on Monday morning. While this was going on in the rehearsal studio, over in the recording studio Edel Murphy, our amazing vocalist, was working on the chanting in the number. Emma was on hand for the dancers and Mark listening in for the drums. It didn’t take long for them to have a final copy sent over to the Gaiety that we could dance to for the rest of the afternoon. Everything was coming together nicely…. until…..I joke! Everything ran smoothly. We had the number sorted, positions sorted, lights sorted, screen in the background sorted, we had our new costumes sorted, which are designed by the wonderful Joan Bergin so it was just a matter of running it over and over so everyone felt comfortable with everything.
Debut day was finally upon us. As the final dress rehearsals drew to a close John Mc Colgan spoke to us on stage to give us a final briefing on the number and the mood he wanted us to portray on the stage come showtime.
SHOW TIME and the Gaiety was probably the most packed it has been all summer. In fact I don’t think there was an empty seat in the house! The atmosphere was electric and everyone was in good spirits. The girls couldn’t have done a better job on the new number and everyone was buzzing when they came off stage.
It is a great privilege to be a part of something new. Not much has changed in the 20 years of Riverdance with regards to new dances in the show so I am excited and honoured to be a part of it. It is still a work in progress and I’m sure it will be changed a round a little bit until everyone is happy with it but hopefully everyone enjoys watching it as much as we love performing it.
Riverdance for Rwanda released on 11 August 1994
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