The National Dance Company of Ireland was created in 1998 and has gone from strength to strength since then touring the world with a very talented cast of national, international and world class dancers, a fabulous band and although the programme and online advertises three Irish Tenors, tonight it was slightly disappointing that they were not on this leg of the tour.
However, the vocal talents of Dennis Grindels and Giselle O'Meara more than made up for their non-appearance and it was a joy to hear the many Irish songs they performed either solo or in perfect harmony with each other.
The show starts off with a spoken recorded message which I have to say I found very difficult to understand as the sound was too loud and became distorted, however this is the only time the music or sound is inaudible. With a backdrop of cliffs and crashing waves there are brilliant lighting and sound effects in recreating a storm. Throughout the evening the spotlight on performers is in absolute perfect synchrony.
To a solo whistle player, Paddy McGrindels, the dancers slowly emerge onto the stage as the scene changes to dawn breaking, accompanied by other members of the band with Michael Gaffney on bodhran drum, Aine O'Donoghue on accordion and Conor Casey with guitar. The four musicians are all excellent and during the show all get the chance to perform a solo piece with a particularly amazing set with Gaffney playing the bodhran drum and the dancers replicating the sound as they stepdance with increasing speed.
Choreography in the show is spectacular and is a credit to Dane McKiernan who also performs in the show as lead dancer. Lead female dancer tonight is Megan McElhatton who is a delight to watch. All dancers leave you spellbound as they dance the intricate steps as a speed that does not seem possible. They dance with such a nonchalant manner that it is evident that hours and hours of rehearsals have taken place. There is not a foot out of place and all pairings compliment their partners. With numerous costume changes, each with wonderful styles and colours, Rhythm of the Dance becomes even more riveting.
There is a story to the whole show, as given in the programme, explaining the journey the dancers are embarking on and taking us through the years. Without the programme information, I am not sure I would have fully understood the story so I would advise buying one and reading through it (or look up Rhythm of the Dance online beforehand). All music is live from the four-piece band seated at the back of the stage and for several dances the singers accompany them too. As dances change, the projected images on the backdrop change too, effectively depicting the changing times or setting the scenes.
I may not have fully aware of the story throughout but this did not detract from my enjoyment this evening and judging by the rapturous applause and cheers received at every performed number, everyone else also appreciated the show.
Reviewer: Lorna Weekes
Reviewed: 3rd August 2017
North West End Rating: ★★★★