I was listening to my local radio this morning, and they played this piece of music. I love my local radio station; it’s mostly country and western, or folk, of which I am not a fan, but occasionally they mix in a bit of contemporary pop and the odd gem, like Derek Ryan’s brilliant version of the Raggle Taggle Gypsies, and today, Riverdance. Only on Irish radio can they broadcast dancing!
Riverdance was first introduced to the general public during Eurovision 1994…do you remember? I’ll never forget it! I am ashamed to say that previously, I had viewed Irish dancing as something vaguely comical, with their stiff arms and upper bodies, and frenzied leg movements. But Michael Flatley and the beautiful, graceful, dignified Jean Butler changed all that…they made Irish dancing sexy, not just for me, but for a whole lot of other people out there, too.
The choir sends a tingle down my spine, to start with. Then Jean starts to dance, and immediately I’m whisked away to another world. When Michael leaps across the stage, I genuinely expect to see sparks and flames licking around his feet! But it’s during the latter part of the dance where everything truly comes alive for me. As the other dancers join the stage, the music loses its formality and becomes something with a life of its own, something wild, stirring and joyful… it just makes me shiver! The dancers respond; the tapping of their feet becomes a mighty roar, their movements unite to become something powerful and all embracing, and as the line of dancers move toward the camera, I am mesmerised, my senses overwhelmed, until the final, rousing crescendo releases me, and I can breathe again.
I was aware then, in a way I couldn’t put into words, that something special and unique was taking place. Even the commentator, Terry Wogan was speechless, something I thought could never happen, lol! And watching it again this morning, it still has the same effect on me.
Many years later, I was fortunate enough to watch a performance of Riverdance in the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. This tiny, old-fashioned and very beautiful atmospheric theatre proved the perfect venue. Although the cast involved newer, younger dancers, they proved themselves more than worthy, it was a fantastic show, and the effect was still the same.
Long live Irish dancing, and long live Riverdance! If you haven’t yet seen it, I hope you get the chance some day soon.