With body-bending new dance routines being created daily for Tik Tok challenges, I must admit that the Irish step-dancing I saw on YouTube looked quaint by comparison. So, bravo to “Riverdance” for, literally, stepping up its dance game with an amazing 25th-anniversary tour stop at the Fox Theatre.
Yes, there’s still plenty of Irish dancing, but the most interesting parts of this two-hour show were how the style intersects with flamenco, tap, ballet, and even Russian folk dancing. All of those were expertly showcased by a troop of extraordinary dancers and backed up by and live musicians and singers.
“Riverdance” has come a long way since its debut as an interval act at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994. The performance was such a sensation, a full show was created and debuted in Dublin, Ireland the next year to sold-out shows and became a worldwide phenomenon in the late 90s.
The opening of the 25th-anniversary show pays tribute to the past – including its most famous dancers/choreographers, Michael Flatley and Jean Butler – with a video montage on the giant 3D screen.
There’s a very loose narrative story that holds “Riverdance” together about Irish people leaving their homeland and discovering other cultures and styles of dance. That’s where we get to see how flamenco and Irish step-dancing are not that far apart in style and that you can actually have a “West Side Story” dance battle between tappers and steppers in the streets of Manhattan.
The most memorable moments from the show are these intersections I mentioned before and the second act of the night is definitely stronger than the first, giving all the principal dancers an opportunity to shine.
Lamont Brown and Dharmesh Patel were the NYC tappers, who stole the show from the steppers in the extended dance-off. Rocio Dusmet was passionate in her two flamenco solos, matching the stepping rhythm with a Spanish flourish.
While the principal dancers regularly switch off the lead roles, Fergus Fitzpatrick danced the male lead in Atlanta. His strong footwork and agility set the mood for the night. In the first act, Fitzpatrick leads the male troop in a number called “Thunderstorm.” There’s no musical accompaniment, but the dancers create an incredible rhythm with their shoes hitting the stage so hard. It was my favorite part of the first act.
The entire company is on stage to perform the precision, stomping, feet-blurring finale that had the audience on its feet.
Honestly, I thought I might be a little bored with “Riverdance,” but this 25th-anniversary show is better than any Tik Tok dance and I would have gladly sat for two more hours to see these incredible performers.
“Riverdance: The 25th Anniversary Show” continues today, Jan. 28, and Jan. 29 and there are still tickets available if you want to see it yourself. I say go and treat yourself!