Disjointed imitation of Riverdance

Spirit of the Dance @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

Spirit of the Dance @ Theatre Royal, Norwich


Just as tribute bands seem to hit the stage almost as soon as pop bands have their first Number One, so the public's desire for Irish dance in the wake of Riverdance has led to a string of dance acts springing up.

The first returned to present its latest show One World to two big audiences.

Spirit of the Dance now has six companies touring the globe and has its own dance schools training new cast members throughout the year in both Dublin and London.

But imitation it certainly is. The 23-strong team, led by Nigel Hunt and Caroline Coombs, can certainly dance; the production is fast moving and well choreographed (by director Alan Harding) with colourful costumes and great lighting effects.

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But it offers a strangely disjointed mix of dance styles and, worst of all, fails on the very level that made Riverdance so powerful: it completely fails to inspire or move.

The whole feels clinical and sterile, a feeling exacerbated by the recorded sound – which even extends to the tap-sounds of the dancers.

That realisation became more irritating as the evening progressed and I found myself questioning every “live” aspect of the performance. Tour director Aaron Lissimore assured me the fiddle player and three singers were performing live – but the majority of the audience didn't have the chance to ask him.