‘Riverdance’ steps it up for 20th anniversary
The international Irish-dance production, “Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour,” is being presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 and 7, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.
“Riverdance” consists of traditional Irish music and dance and is one of the most successful dance productions in the world, having been seen on stage by more than 25 million.
Amy-Mae Dolan, lead dancer, “Riverdance,” believes Irish dance is so popular in the United States because of the Irish heritage of so many Americans.
“Irish dance is popular all over the world,” Dolan says in a phone interview. “Here in America, there are a lot of people of Irish descent. People love the music, the dance. Our audiences here have been so wonderful.”
Dolan, 20, hails from County Tyrone, Ireland, and has been dancing since she was age 2. She attended the Riverdance Summer School in Dublin and won the World Irish Dance Championship in 2010. She has toured all over the world with “Riverdance.”
“My first tour was in China, and was a very eye-opening experience,” she says. “This is my third tour of North America.”
Dolan says that Irish dance is still also very popular in Ireland: “Back home, it is extremely popular. We have a sold-out audience every night in Ireland.”
“Riverdance” began its journey as the interval act in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, produced for television by Moya Doherty. A seven-minute dance piece was developed into a full-length stage show by producer Doherty, composer Bill Whelan and director John McColgan.
With its fusion of Irish and international music and dance, the show broke box office records during its world première run in Dublin in early 1995. When the show transferred to London, the reaction was unprecedented. There followed a successful tour starting in New York in March 1996, where eight sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall heralded the start of non-stop touring by “Riverdance” companies throughout North America. “Riverdance” has packed theater throughout North America, Oceania, Asia, Europe, South Africa and South America.
The “Riverdance” performance tells the story of Irish people leaving Ireland for a better life and the different people they meet in different countries.
“There are Flamenco dancers, Russian dancers,” Dolan says, “and we learn from each other and return to Ireland with new ideas.
“The music is Grammy Award-winning. It is magical. It always emotionally moves the audience. We love it and can feel the energy. The chorus line in unison captivates the audience. The band, the lighting, the costumes ... everything.”
The 20th anniversary tour has added new elements to the production that make it different from years past. Dolan wants the audience to know that, while they will still see their favorite aspects of “Riverdance,” they can look forward to never-before-seen dances, too.
Set design is by Robert Ballagh, lighting design by John Comiskey, costume design by Joan Bergin and sound design by Michael O’Gorman.
“Riverdance” features new costumes, new lighting, new projections and the addition of the number, “Anna Livia,” featuring the female members of the Irish dance troupe in an a cappella hard-shoe number.
“For those who have seen the show before,” Dolan says, “they can see what has changed and grown. There are brand-new, exciting numbers. Each new dancer brings something. There is something for everyone.”
Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132