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Riverdance 20th Anniversary Tour

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OK. I just couldn't resist going to this (at the Wolf Trap) even though I was a litte under-whelmed when I saw something more akin to the original Riverdance about a decade ago. The show is somewhat revised, but still has everything that we all love and loathe about Riverdance: the infectious music, the high energy performances, the amazingly quick feet, the very attractive, athletic, and precise dancers, the lip-synched "singing", the pre-recorded instrumentals, and the pre-recorded tapping sounds (that were occasionally out of sync with the dancers). The solos, at least according to the program, are basically reproductions of what Michael Flatley and Jean Butler did in the original; certainly the strutting by the leading man and the leather pants made me think of Michael Flatley. It's been a long time, but my impression was that there was less Irish dancing than in earlier incarnations and more musical interludes. I did not remember the American-style tap dancing or the Russian dancers.

The Wolf Trap performances (for social reasons I had to attend twice) were fairly poorly attended, with little more than half the tickets sold for each of the 6 performances.

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I saw this show about 6 weeks ago after having not seen it in a number of years. There is just as much dancing as before and it is FAR better than it was back then except for the Moiseyev dancers who did much simpler - and slower - versions of the original dances. However, I believe they're on the end run of this tour, so they may be tired and nursing injuries. Or maybe they're trying to prevent injuries. I always wondered, way back when, how those dancers could come out with those deep bends and jumps over and over again day after day without suffering career-ending injuries. However, I thought the Irish dancers, both in technique and in energy, were far better than ever. Hehe, and come to think of it, they are jumping around an awful lot themselves.

There is just as much dancing as before. Frankly, I've always hated the singing: I find the ballads quite boring. Irish music is SO rich with beautiful plaintive ballads - the emotion they're striving to create in this show - that I've always wondered why they didn't just use the traditional songs.

The female soloist was gorgeous and, in addition, had beautiful arms, something I wish I'd see more in many professional ballet dancers. Overall, her steps were far harder than the original steps choreographed by Jean Butler, but then so was the caliber of all the dances. Today, the caliber of Irish competitive dance is extremely high, as evidenced by the major competitions throughout the world. The Irish dancers in this show are usually all just off the competitive circuit.

I hate the pre-taped sounds for the Flatley role. It really is unnecessary for these dancers. It's great to have the feet miked, but really, really stupid, I think, to pre-tape their sounds. I wonder if that's something the show is stuck with, as ordained by Flatley who choreographed his own solos and still has some financial interest in the show. It appears that the male lead is required to do those steps.

The tap versus Irish section was my favorite when I first saw the show in NYC on its original tour, and I like it even more this time around. It's longer, and far better, than the earlier version. Again, everyone is dancing at a much higher caliber.

Overall, I found this program to be the best it's ever been. It's been around so long and has gone through some tired stages, but it sure didn't look at all tired 6 weeks ago.

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