Monday, February 28, 2011

Bravo Riverdance!

LP Russell

Spellbinding, empyrean, frolicsome, whimsical, ethereal, mesmerizing and on and on. Riverdance, the Phenomenon, is all of this, and more.
A true test of a work of art is it’s longevity. Created over 17 years ago in the UK, Riverdance is still thrilling audiences around the world as it did at the Benedum Theater last weekend.

The first scene, Reel Around The Sun, prepares our emotions for the undulating journey to follow. The melancholy strains of a solo woodwind are soon interrupted by the first pass of lead dancer, Alan Scariff, as he emerges from the darkness and almost soars across the stage, setting the tone for the rest of the adventure.  The rhythms build to the point where the crowd cannot help but participate with hands clapping to the tempo of the music and the emotion of the dance. This feeling builds and builds, climaxing with the Riverdance Finale, where the entire cast awes the crowd with the power of an incredible ensemble dance… Irish style!

If you had the opportunity to watch the documentary of the making of Riverdance, you would assume that Moya Doherty, the producer and original catalyst in the creation of Riverdance, would ensure the overall excellence of the dancers and musicians. And she certainly has. But, along with that, there were two things that were exceptionally impressive to this fan.

First, the show has stayed true to what it was when if first began. If I were to go see CSN&Y in concert, I would be disappointed if the did not play their classic hits, like Suite Judy Blue Eyes and Wooden Ships. Riverdance did not disappoint. Most of the scenes held true to the original choreography created by the fist notable dancers, Michael Flatley, Colin Dunne and Jean Butler. But, this time I got to enjoy them live and to feel the power of their performance.

Then, there is the underlying theme of exploring the different, but similar, styles of, shall I say, Foot Dancing… Tap, Flamenco and Irish.  The street challenge between the Irish dancers and the Tap Boys from the ‘City’,  DeWitt Fleming Jr. and Michael E. Wood, exemplifies this perfectly. Facing-off against each other. Trading licks. One outdoing the last. Both styles utilize the same basic techniques. But, when compared side-by-side, the differences created a scene that is memorable and so enjoyable to watch. Yes… It ended as a tie!

Flamenco is similar in our comparison. But, this performance was uncommonly exquisite, astonishingly seductive, strikingly sensual. Marita Martinez-Rey creates what might best be described as Art in Motion… Beautiful.  Again, a stroke of genius that has made Riverdance such an enduring and unique entity, the combining of different disciplines of dance that find their first steps in the same textbook.

Riverdance… A terrific evening! The show was terrific. The theater was terrific. The company was terrific. Yes, the wine was terrific!
Only one thing left to do...I wonder if my old tap shoes are still hiding in the garage?

(c) Joanne Quinn-Smith and PositivelyPittsburghLive Talkcast, 2011 All Rights Reserved.

L.P. Russell   

Son of a Rocket Scientist...
Product of Private Schools...
Left college to play music across the western US...
Ended up in the Casino Poker business...
Became one of the most well known Poker Tournament Directors (like you see on TV... Knew many of those folks)  Dropped everything to come to .... Wait for it.... Pittsburgh!!!! Yikes....
After a 25 year hiatus....returning to the music business.  Here is where you can find his songs.'s  book about casino gambling `is there, too. You may download it. And ... Remember to Crank It Up when you listen to the music, it's good stuff.

No comments: