Stomping on the foot of a fairy and revealing a mystical realm.
It is because of the movie "Billy Elliot" that I wanted to watch "Riverdance"; I just needed some more of that folk dance foot-stomping energy that Billy would use at the beginning of his dances and I figured that Riverdance would have it. And boy does it have it, and then some! I have never seen and hardly dared imagine anything like this before. And never again can anybody say, "white folk don't have rhythm"--you can hardly be more "white" than the Irish, nor hardly more rhythmic than what was displayed here!
Michael Flatley, the composer, and his spectacular companies of dancers and musicians have created and performed a phenomenally inspiring and soul-stirring exhibition of pride, power, and beauty. I've heard of ballet dancers who leap and then seem to hang in the air in violation of the dictates of gravity. Well, the same is true with these dancers, who, with the complicated patterns of leg kicks interspersed with their powerful tap dancing seem to be as immune from gravity as winged unicorns.
Historically, the Irish have had a hard time of it (Angela's Ashes and all that), but listening to music like this where the human spirit infinitely yearns and the body prevails against any obstacle, I can feel the mystical, eternal strength of ancient Celtic and Druidic roots that predated Roman and Christian invasions. I'm not really sure of the meaning of the title, "Riverdance", but I believe it has something to do with leprechaun-like water spirits; there is an emotional element of fairyland magic or the revelation of a mystical dimension that is somehow inside the world we normally inhabit. The Irish are true survivors and now, finally, their country is emerging as one of the most successful economic powerhouses in the new Europe--they have amply shown that they have the strength, magic, and spirit to prevail; may they long and abundantly prosper.
Beyond the spiritual and physical dimensions of these performances, there was a great intellectualism, too, a mathematics and spacial relations in the dance routines that was an amazement and a delight to the mind as well as to the eye. What a joy it all was to behold: such smiling stamina, such expressive integration with the rhythms and the emotions of the music, what beautiful and humorous people who seemed to be having as much fun exploding their controlled energy on stage as it was for the ecstatic audience to watch them.
And finally, Michael Flatley, obviously the star of the show, never quite lorded over everybody else or succumbed to what might be a justifiable arrogance, but freely expressed through winks, smiles, and various pats on the arm signs of warmth, appreciation, and love for his fellow dancers, which was a great pleasure to see.
I happily wear green on St. Patrick's Day and my roots are from somewhere on the British Isles, but now that I've seen "Riverdance", I really wish that I were Irish!
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