For 20 years, Riverdance has entertained and enthralled audiences, sharing traditions and telling the stories of the land of Eire with song, dance and joie de vivre – buoyant enjoyment of life. Tuesday, Jan. 30, Community Concerts brings Riverdance to the Crown Complex for an evening of energetic entertainment. Hailed by The New York Times as a phenomenon and by the Toronto Star as delightful, energetic and sexy, the show is one that’s sure to impress audience members of all backgrounds.
“The success of Riverdance across the whole world has gone beyond our wildest dreams,” said producer Moya Doherty. “The fact that the show continues to draw and excite audiences is a tribute to every dancer, singer, musician, staff and crew member who have dedicated themselves to the show. This 20th Anniversary Tour is a thank you to our audiences and a celebration of what has been an incredible journey across two decades.”
Amy-Mae Dolan from County Tyrone, Ireland, has been dancing since she was two years old. She joined Riverdance in 2016. She noted that the show’s reach is broad. Since it began over 20 years ago, Riverdance has traveled over 750,000 miles; that’s the equivalent of traveling around the world 30 times. It has had over 11,500 performances and been seen by over 25 million people in 47 countries, across six continents.
“However, in my opinion, the best thing about Riverdance is the feeling it gives the audience members; they leave excited and full of joy, having just experienced something sensational and very unique,” she said.
Riverdance originally stole the show as the interval act at the 1994 Eurovision song contest. The same elements that made it a hit continue to appeal to audiences worldwide. The Grammy awardwinning music by Bill Whelan, the chorus line of more than 20 dancers and the passion and energy that emanates from the stage keep this show on the road year in and year out.
“The performers’ passion and energy are incredible,” Dolan said. “We all love what we do, and that excitement and elation are tangible onstage and throughout the audience. We treat every night as opening night; our pride and love for Riverdance allow us to bring our best to the stage every night.”
Through music and dance, the show illustrates the journey of Irish people departing to a new world. The first half depicts their settling in Ireland and the myths and legends that appeared at that time. The second half presents their departure in search for a better life, their arrival to the New World and their interaction with new cultures. They return home with new ideas and new influences.
“As a female principal dancer in the show, I dance in six extraordinary numbers in which I display both the delicacy and strength of the female Irish dancer,” Dolan said. “The show is a magical celebration of music and dance.”
It takes 64 people to tell the tale of the Irish - 36 of them performers. Twenty-four of them are Irish dancers, one is a flamenco dancer, six are Russian dancers, two are American tap dancers, and there is a band of four musicians.
Adding to the show’s appeal, the tour has seen some technical updates. Lighting, staging and the set have all been refined over the 20 years. So, it’s changed in some ways while remaining true to the original spirit of Riverdance.
“Every new performer that joins the show brings something different and exciting, and so you never see the same show twice,” Dolan said. “We treat every night as an opportunity to improve; we are learning more and more every day not only how to improve our fitness and dancing but also our storytelling – the feeling behind our dancing – which really captivates the audience. There is an incredible new number added to the show titled ‘Anna Livia.’ It is an a cappella hard shoe number for the female Irish dancers. It is a tribute to the empowerment and grace of all female Irish dancers, highlighting their incredible strength. All the exciting changes and the growth of the show over the 20 years makes this the best the show has been.”
A longstanding organization committed to excellence, Community Concerts has made bringing topnotch entertainment to Fayetteville its priority since 1935. The all-volunteer organization creates the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in entertainment at pocketbook-friendly prices. ZZ Top was scheduled as the season opener but canceled due to illness. “Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage” was the season premiere in November, leaving two shows after Riverdance to complete the season – The Commodores, which will perform in April, and The Illusionists, which wraps up the season in May.
In keeping with the spirit of first-rate music and its importance locally, Community Concerts sponsors several initiatives that support local artists and music-related causes.
It founded the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame in 2008, which recognizes and honors those who have brought musical distinction to the community. Previous inductees include, just to name a few, the 82nd Airborne Chorus; Cumberland Oratorio Singers founder Alan Porter; former Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra music director Harlan Duenow; local songwriters and recording artists Lynne O’Quinn and Doyle Wood; and Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra maestro Fouad Fakhouri.
Those who aspire to music-related careers also receive support from the organization in the form of scholarships. The scholarship program was instituted in 2004. Since its inception, Community Concerts has awarded 28 scholarships.
The local artist showcase program brings artists of all ages to the stage, including even the youngest performers. Through this program, local Christian powerhouse youth performance group Voices of the Heart recently opened for Gladys Knight, and children from Linda Kinlaw’s School of Dance performed with Martina Mc Bride.
Community Concerts also gives certain groups the opportunity to attend concerts free of charge. Past groups have included senior citizens, the Vision Resource Center, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, The Sunshine Center, members of local fire and police departments, high school theater art classes, members of the military and more.
For tickets and information, visit www.community-concerts.com.