By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
It’s part tap dancing and part ballet. Think of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers on steroids. It’s also part folk-dance, ballroom, contemporary, hip hop with some flamenco dance included. On opening night at the Denver’s Buell Theatre May 31st the crowd was hooting and clapping after each number. Kids were trying to mimic the dance steps some dressed to look like their favorite dancers. “Wow, I was not expecting to see this type of dancing at this level said one patron. Another woman said ‘this is far more than I was expecting. I’ve seen them on television and I wondered if I should even attend. Now I am so glad I did”
You have probably seen them on Public Television as well, but seeing them in person is unique experience. Much like viewing videos of your favorite concerts as opposed to attending a concert in person. It is a whole other experience.
For 25 years Riverdance has entertained more than 25 million people with it extraordinary popular stage show based on a type of Irish dancing called stepdance, which involves very quick movements of the feet while the arms remain at the side of the body.
The performance tells the story of people moving to new places and changing over time, taking their dances and their stories with them. It stresses how to handle loss, sacrificial love, friendship, and the power of light to overcome darkness. Riverdance is rooted in a three-part suite of baroque-influenced traditional music called Timedance.
The precision and synchronization and choreography of the dancers is impeccable rivaled only by the Rockets of New York Radio City Music Hall. Riverdance claims to have some of the best dancers in the world all of whom are championship-winning dancers.
This dance troupe not only dances but they sing and play various instruments. The dance company is backed by an 11-piece orchestra, playing Irish and more traditional musical instruments. Classical and acoustic guitars are played for part of the dances.
Keyboard, flutes and clarinets provide smooth accompaniment. Violins play a prominent role in many of the numbers. Unilleann pipes are probably the most unusual instrument used by the Riverdance Orchestra. It has a sound that is similar to Scottish bagpipes. In addition to a traditional drum set, bodhrans and hand drums are used. The vocals sound choir-like with almost heavenly voices.
Riverdance was originally a seven-minute performance for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. It shot straight to the top of the charts, and the company expanded its performance to the dance performance it is today.
Two of the dancers are from Colorado – Matthew & Michael Gardiner (@gardinerbrothers).
Michael Gardiner started dancing in Denver, Colorado when he was 4 years old. At the age of 10 he moved to Galway, Ireland where he joined the renowned Hession School. Michael won many major titles including two World Championships, with a historic World Title win in the same year as his brother Matthew. Michael joined Riverdance in 2015, when he successfully auditioned at the Riverdance Summer School. As part of the Riverdance team, Michael is honoured to have performed with Riverdance all over the world, including North America and China. He performed for Pope Francis in Croke Park Dublin in 2018 and was part of the creative team on a special piece for the World Meeting of Families. Michael and his brother Matthew showcase their creative side on social media, where they have over three and half million followers. @gardinerbrothers Michael is a qualified Architect from the University of Limerick. He is a huge Denver Broncos fan and an avid lover of traditional Irish music. @mike_gardiner95
Matthew began Irish dancing in Denver, Colorado and moved to Galway, Ireland and continued dancing under the Hession School of Irish Dance. He won 30 major championship titles, including 3 World championships. With his brother Michael, they created Irish dancing history when they won their respective World titles in the same year. Matthew attended the Riverdance Summer School and was selected to join Riverdance in 2017. He performed in the Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show in the 3Arena, Dublin (2020), on the UK National Tour (2021) and North American Tour (2022) and joined the lead team at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin. Matthew and his brother Michael showcase their creative side with @gardinerbrothers and they have over 350 million views on social media. Matthew is a qualified Civil Engineer from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a championship winner in tennis, soccer and basketball.
Riverdance plays Denver Thru June 4, 2023 only at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.