Dance review: Riverdance Farewell Tour

By Raewyn Whyte

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The Riverdance Farewell Tour is on till May 27. Photo / Supplied
The Riverdance Farewell Tour is on till May 27. Photo / Supplied

Riverdance has been touring the world since 1995, introducing millions of people to Irish dance and music traditions adapted for spectacular stage show presentation.

Over the years, the cast has been as large as 80, with dancers and singers in different squads, and all music played live.

In these recessionary times we have a slimmed down cast, with just 27 highly accomplished dancers who also sing beautifully, and a fabulous four-piece Irish band (Bodrahn and percussion, Uillean pipes and whistles, fiddle, saxophone) supplemented by backing tracks.

There's also some audio assistance which ensures the singing and tapping and stamping of feet throughout the show is easily heard.

The dancing is vigorous and jaunty, rhythmically precise and highly disciplined, with rapid footwork in soft shoes, or in hard shoes beating out the rhythm against the floor much as tap dancers do.

Legs are crossed at the ankles, scissored from the thighs, and kicking as high as the waist or shoulder.

Arms are either held down at the sides, or tossed away from the body. Solo and duet dancing is exciting to watch, and group and formation ceili social dancing is impressive.

Principal dancers Padraic Moyles and Maria Buffinii are well supported by the excellent troupe.

The show is built from highly polished vignettes ranging from 1-12 minutes, each with its own projected image, its own colour palette and set of costumes for the performers.

Some also have a poem presented in voiceover, comprising a narrative which is difficult to discern without reading the programme notes.

The show really comes alive in the extended sequences involving guest performers.

Flamenco dancer Rocio Montoya stands out in the first half with an all too brief solo originally choreographed by Maria Pages.

And in the second half, guest baritone singer Michael E Wood solos with Heal their Hearts - Freedom, ending with the cast en masse in song, then he and fellow American guest tapper Kelly Isaac enter into a series of good-natured dance exchanges with Riverdance men, contrasting the more free-form American style of tap dancing with the reined-in Irish form, and with the crowd cheering them on.

What: Riverdance: Farewell Tour
Where: Aotea Centre
When: To May 27

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