Is Magic

By Iride Aparicio

RIVERDANCE LINE                                       Photo Credit: Jack Hartin 
RIVERDANCE LINE                                       Photo Credit: Jack Hartin

SAN JOSÉ, CA –  After a sold-out acclaimed tour across Europe and Asia, “RIVERDANCE – The 20th Anniversary World Tour,” the  blend of dance, music and songs show drawing on the Irish traditions,  returned to America and is now being presented at our Center for the Performing Arts as part of BROADWAY SAN JOSÉ,  a Nederlander Presentation, on a limited engagement from  November 24 to November 29th.

Produced by MOYA DOHERTY, composed by BILL WHELAN, and directed by JOHN McCOLGAN, “RIVERDANCE” may be described as "Rhythmic and synchronized dance as its best from beginning to end."

There is dancing in a line, with over twenty dancers stomping the stage with their heels in perfect synchronization; Jumping dancing, in which all move their legs rapidly from front to back, and hopping dancing on one foot or on both feet, without missing a single music beat. 

There is also dancing is small groups, an Irish type of dance where all the dance movementd are done by the dancers using their legs: Their torsos do not move, their backs remain straight, and there is little movement in their  arms and hands.

Principal dancer ANNA LIVIA (center) & a group   Photo:  Rob
Principal dancer ANNA LIVIA (center) & a group   Photo:  Rob McDogall

There is very fast dancing which they do in circles, using steps similar to those of  Square dance. Couples spinning, fast, holding hands and dancers forming concentric circles with other group of dancers.

And there is “folk dancing”  which on opening night included “Trading Taps” a number, accompanied by “Blues” music, played in a Saxophone by KEN EDGE in which two groups of dancers competing with each other, demonstrate  the mastery of tap dancing. The group included the Male Irish Dance Principal and two other dancers in competition with Black dancers ROHAN PINNOCK HAMILTON (former North England Tap Chamion)and ANDREW PRASHAD ( one of the leading tap dancers in Canada) Both groups were great, specially at the end of the number when they danced together. Another show stopper that night was “Macedonian morning" The Russian Dervish with the RIVERDANCE musicians and The Russian Folk Dance Troupe performing the most Athletic dances of the night, which included high jumps, from the men dancers, Cossack-dancing (dancing with bended knees) and a number in which one of the female dances dancing with a man, shortens her body to about two feet tall allowing her partner to spins her around rapidly like a human top. On the solo side was the Fire dance  and the Andalucia with Flamenco Soloist ROCIO MONTOYA, and  several pas de deux danced by the troupe's Principal dancers.

But we ought to remember that the RIVERDANCE troupe also sings. The Baritone solois in a powerful voice, the choir singers producing their tone with their upper part of the body, so the pitch is high and pure, but not very loud. At times, when singing as soloists, one can hear the singer breathing heavily between the phrases of her song. The themes of their songs are Irish, and include  magical characters. There are also Gospel songs and one that tells the story of the Irish people who came  to America by ship, with the hope to make their dreams come true here.  They were poor, so they brought nothing with them  but their music. And now after many years later some of those old Irish men and women are returning to their land.

Flying as you dance                   Photo by: Rob McDogall
Flying as you dance                   Photo by: Rob McDogall

But their music remained here with us and we hear it in RIVERDANCE played by the orchestra, or  interpreted by soloists, master musicians who play a violin, very fast, or a recorder perfectly in tune, a doleful sax,  or a melody in the Scottish bang pipes. There is also music created by the rhythmic sounds of the drums and the taps.

And it is the amalgamation of masterful dancing, the different sounds, the colorful clothes of the dancers, and the life-size projections bathed under a rainbow of lights, that makes RIVERDANCE  Magic.