3:58pm Thursday 8th March 2012
By Fiona Phillips
LIKE many other earth-shattering world events, everyone remembers where they were when they first saw Riverdance.
Nations took a collective sharp intake of breath when, sandwiched between the cheesy boombangabangs and nul pointes of the Eurovision Song Contest’s first and second halves, a new breed of Irish dancer took to the stage.
The haunting tones of Celtic music brought up to date providing a background for a dance event that was genuinely thrilling and groundbreaking. A phenomenon was born and the world has been lapping it up ever since.
One of the stars of that original Riverdance was the breathtakingly talented Michael Flatley, a man who could dance almost at the speed of sound and brought a genuine new energy to this most traditional of dance styles.
And following on from his success in that show Flatley went on to take the world by storm in performance after performance, culminating in the riveting Lord of the Dance, which is now being introduced to a whole new audience as it tours Britain and Europe, with shows at Cardiff’s Millennium Centre until Sunday.
While Flatley is no longer the dance principal it is still very much his show and his influence and creativity are still much in evidence. The Lord of the Dance role was taken by a very worthy successor to Flatley indeed, in the shape of James Keegan, a real showman whose shoes actually spark with the dynamism of his performance.
Lord of the Dance has a real narrative to showcase the talents of the Irish dancing corps, who skilfully weave elements of many dance styles including Flamenco and Russian into their performances, while never losing sight of its Celtic roots. Has dance ever looked more macho than during the battle between the Lord of the Dance and the Dark Lord (Tom Cunningham). The whole production simply crackles with its energy and electricity.
But it isn’t just about the moves either; the stunning set pieces are interspersed with fantastic fiddle playing and singing performances from Giada Costenaro, Sarah Lynch and Deidre Shannon. Other principals were Sarah Lennon, Ciara Sexton and Katie Pomfret, bringing together a show that far exceeds the sum of its parts.
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