15th April 2016

Review: Riverdance 21

University of Manchester Irish dancer Olivia Gaskill heads to the Apollo to experience the real thing

I sat down in the O2 Apollo with high expectations of Riverdance, and I can say I was certainly not disappointed. Now in its 21st year of production, Riverdance is touring around the UK at 13 different venues from March to May 2016, before moving on to Canada.

As the lights in the theatre dim, Bill Whelan’s ‘Reel Around the Sun’ takes us on the start of our journey through the history and struggles of Ireland. In front of me I can see a fellow audience member moving his hands to the beat, and as the ensemble of dancers file on stage, I can feel my feet tapping along too. Although, I was disappointed by the lack of crowd response when the lead male dancer, Callum Spencer, made his début mid-dance, as I thought his entrance and remarkable footwork deserved at least a few cheers.

The lead female dancer, Ciara Sexton, captivated my attention, and it seemed everyone else’s too, as she appeared on stage during ‘The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe’. Elegance and grace are the words that come to mind when watching her dance and you can see why she was cast as the lead female.

Although an Irish show, Riverdance is not limited by just one style of dance, featuring performances from those such as flamenco dancer, Rocio Montoya, and a Russian ensemble who show off their talents through their brilliant leaps and pirouettes. My personal favourite and a definite crowd pleaser was ‘Trading Taps’, which took us to New York in a comical rivalry between Irish and Tap dancers. The two lead tappers were immensely talented and, not surprisingly, received the loudest cheer during the finale encore. Neither missed a beat and they seemed to take full advantage of there being a section with no music, which left the audience wanting more.

Drawing on its first performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994, the finale was also a crowd favourite. Opening with a duet between the leads and ending in the iconic line of dancers, this routine brought goosebumps to my arms and made me want to watch it all again from the beginning.

Riverdance will be performing in the UK until the 15th of May, so if you get the chance to see it and are debating whether to buy a ticket, I recommend this: Act fast, you certainly won’t regret it.

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