‘Riverdance’ is ‘brilliantly ravishing’



The show “Riverdance” came to the Gallagher Bluedorn for three performances this past weekend. NI reviewer Shelby Welsch said the dancing was phenomenal throughout the show.


“Riverdance” is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish music and dance. Since its debut on a Dublin stage back in 1995, the traveling group has performed at hundreds of venues across the world for over 25 million people, making it one of the most successful dance productions in the world.

“Riverdance” is currently touring in the United States. The Gallagher Bluedorn hosted the group for three performances, which took place on Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3, and was put on by Abhann Productions.

The performance, all in all, was a dazzling work of art. While it can be expected before even walking through the theatre’s doors that a dance company would deliver top tier dancing, I was not expecting there to also be stunning singing and harmonious musicianship alongside such refined and rhythmic Irish dance.

The show told a beautiful story through music and dance. It told the heartbreaking story of being forced to immigrate during the Irish Potatoe famine. It told the story of how dance became a staple of communion and ritual among the Irish. And, most importantly, it told the story that even dance which seems so traditional like the Irish jig can be modernized and altered to a dancer’s liking.

The show was divided up into many different “scenes” of Irish dancing with little sprinkles of delightful vocal solos or battles between musicians playing their traditional Irish instruments, such as the fiddle, percussion, uilleann pipes and saxophone.

The dancing was phenomenal. The fast pace and steady click of the dancers’ heels excited me so much and made me feel giddy like a little girl. I appreciated the traditional sense of many of the dancing scenes, but also enjoyed the taste of modernization that the production implemented.

An example of this was in a scene where two groups of men had an exuberant jig battle — but their styles of dance were very different from one another. One group danced traditionally, with quick steps that tapped as evenly as clockwork.

The other group’s style was more eclectic and preferred to tap at an irregular rhythm, adding hip-hop and jazz-like swinging feel into their jig. It was a fun dynamic, and the two parties got so into their dancing that the speed of their heels clacking on the wooden stage resembled a galloping horse.

I also cannot commend the musicians enough. This production was just as much instrumentally oriented as it was dance oriented. Not only did they all have extremely fast and difficult parts; they played it all for memory without one glance at their sheet music.

I was particularly flabbergasted at the violinist and percussionist. The violinist, Ceilidh Briscoe, played in nearly every single song, some of her parts being so wildly fast that her fingers were flying around like a mad woman on the fiddle. Nonetheless, she was able to produce nothing but excellence throughout the show.

The percussionist, Mark Alfred, also doubled as the musical director. His ability to get every cymbal crash and snare run just right was truly amazing. Judging by the variety of percussion instruments that were used throughout the duration of the production, there probably should have been two or three people back there on the percussion set, but Alfred managed to bounce around from drum to drum and nail every beat to every song.

“Riverdance” was a brilliantly ravishing show that displayed some good old fashioned Irish fun for the whole family. With a perfect balance between shining dance performances and brilliant musicianship, this show offered a little something for everybody to appreciate.

It truly captured the Irish essence at its roots and was a treat to watch the jig dancers fly around on stage and swiftly move their feet to a brisk beat.