Lynn Kan
Fri, Dec 03, 2010
The Business Times
Dance realm's chick flick

RIVERDANCE is pretty much the chick flick equivalent of the dance world. It's the sort of guilty pleasure-watching that dance buffs shouldn't be quick to gush over, lest they be scoffed at for having populist tastes.

However, there's obviously value in chick flicks otherwise there would not have been a proliferation of them. More than 15 years on, Riverdance continues to be a crowd favourite and there's no stemming the tide of applause and whoops from the audience when they watch the dancers high-kick their way across the stage.

Riverdance - The Farewell Tour isn't a work of avant-garde art, and it doesn't pretend to be. What it is is an open-door invitation to do what most performers want their audience to do: sit back and relax. Don't think too hard and Riverdance is thoroughly enjoyable for its energy and camp.

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It delivers the bare necessities of dance entertainment. There is a dance-off between the traditional Irish dancers and the street bluesy tap-dancers, passionate flamenco dancing by the bewitching Rocio Montoya, a very hummable soundtrack with brilliant fiddling by Niamh Fahy and a lot of flashy smiles. One is reminded how little it actually takes to make an after-work audience happy.

Another quality that is both alarming and admirable is how little has changed about Riverdance since it first came to Singapore ten years ago.

Read also:
» Irish tap dancing heats
up the stage at MBS
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» Grand affair for Riverdance
and Sands Theater opening

The song numbers remained so hauntingly similar to the Riverdance recordings I've been listening to on my iTunes now and then that their replicated quality became a little unnerving. One couldn't tell if the sweet lady crooner and the back-up singers were pitch-perfect consistent or blatantly lip-syncing.

The question was answered when vocal soloist Rohan Pinnock-Hamilton belted out Heal Their Hearts - Freedom with stirring emotion in the second half of the show. What gave his version oomph was his reverberation, difference in volume from the back-up vocals and the live music accompaniment.

What was certainly pre-recorded were the tapping sounds to amplify the nifty footwork. It was a little distracting when the tapping didn't coincide with the dancers' feet striking the floor. But it added to the fun of Riverdance.

Lead dancer Padraic Moyles wasn't afraid to pile on the machismo with loud whoops. His leather-clad legs were aquiver during his high-frequency stepdancing, a regular ringleader of the male Irish dancers in an impactful all-male ensemble.

His blonde female counterpart Chloey Turner was more reserved, but her skill was in her rocks - when a dancer moves her ankles as though she were dislocating them. Her displacement was quite the optical illusion.

There wasn't much to fault in terms of the execution of the group dance. Every member kept their energy up throughout the two-hour performance. Perhaps to overcompensate for a performance that's meant to be one of their final hurrahs, the dancers gave it their all. There were times, though, this burst of energy eclipsed the Sands theatre stage.

Riverdance was every bit the nice, well-rehearsed performance one expected it to be. But it leaves you wishing that it was a bit more of a show-stopper as it high-kicks offstage.


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