Riverdance's 25th anniversary show lifts the roof off Cambridge Corn Exchange

Riverdance went down a storm at Cambridge Corn Exchange.

Riverdance went down a storm at Cambridge Corn Exchange. - Credit: Riverdance. Supplied by Cambridge Corn Exchange

Riverdance can be seen at Cambridge Corn Exchange until Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Angela Singer reviews the show.

Riverdance can be seen at Cambridge Corn Exchange.

Riverdance can be seen at Cambridge Corn Exchange. - Credit: Riverdance. Supplied by Cambridge Corn Exchange

This show is a phenomenon. It’s the eighth wonder of the world. Never has a stage held so much talent in a single performance.

The dance is influenced by styles from around the world. Flamenco, Russian and a thunderous dance off between the new Irish immigrants who arrived in New York and American jazz tappers.

The Irish had been taught to dance tall and straight – the jazzers are nonchalant, leaning and waving their arms. In a contest for flair and speed, it would be difficult to say who would win.

Don’t expect an evening of just Irish dancing. It’s there and it’s superb – fast, beautiful, cheeky, with immaculate precision as if they are all powered by electricity.

But also we have balletic lifts, athletic twirls and whirls with leaps and cartwheels and scissor kicks and the splits in the air.

In 18 scenes including virtuoso instrumental pieces and lyrical and uplifting singing, this is the Irish story unfolding, sometimes wistful, sometimes powerful, always with great spirit.

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And we know that the Irish have travelled the world.

For the finale, the narrator says: “We are one kind. We are one people now, our voices blended, our music a great world in which we can feel everywhere at home.”

Indeed, members of the company, though mostly Irish, now come from across the globe.

This is a world showcase of the best singers, (some of the most beautiful singing is a cappella), the best dancers (some of them started when they were two, but mostly three and four – dancers are the only people who train from when they are infants) and top musicians playing the uilleann pipes, the fiddle, the soprano saxophone, the bodhran and, of course, the drums.

This is the 25th anniversary show. Riverdance began as a seven-minute version at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, choreographed by Irish-American Michael Flatley.

It was seen by 300 million television viewers worldwide. In August that year, the video Riverdance for Rwanda sold 100,000 copies raising over 230,000 in Irish punt for famine relief. In November, it was invited to the Royal Variety Performance in London. That month Riverdance the show was born. Sales broke a million Irish punt in a month.

In 1996, it went to New York. It’s been travelling the world since. It caught everyone’s attention. We held our breath then and we are still gasping at it now. People see it again and again.

The woman in the seat in front of me was seeing it for the fourth time and the people with her for their fifth. Understandable because it’s impossible to look everywhere at once.

And it is so uplifting, to hear such singing, to see such joyous routines. The power, the energy is invigorating. As my Irish mother-in-law used to say: “If you were dead, it would bring you back.”

Riverdance is at Cambridge Corn Exchange until Wednesday, September 22 and then touring Britain.

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