Riverdance – Irish Culture and Society

22 Jul

Riverdance is a show that takes the audience on a journey through Ireland from the first inhabitants to an emigrant’s child returning home.  The show is filled with rich Irish music, singing and dancing which highlights some of the best parts of Irish culture. 

One of the most notable moments of the performance was a dance scene that reflected an American wake, which was a party which was thrown the night before family and friends were leaving to emigrate.  The American wake became a part of Irish culture during the time of the potato famine because of the mass emigration that was taking place.  That just goes to show how something so organic to Irish culture has now made its way into a worldwide performance. 

The instruments were also very connected to Irish culture.  There were four musical solos that have a very strong connection to Irish culture.  The uileann pipes, fiddle, flute and bodhran all featured as a solo at some point during the show.  In addition to their solos the fiddle and the flute were used during all the dancing as well.     

Irish step dancing is the backbone of the show which is such an iconic image of Irish culture around the world.  There were also elements of Irish folk dancing in their choreography featuring moves from a folk dance the Siege of Ennis. There were also more modern dance elements featured during a dance battle with “local New York” tap dancers. 

Riverdance was an amazing performance with a full cast of talented musicians, singers and dancers.  The show brings many elements of Irish culture to the stage. However there are mixed feelings on how Irish culture is reflected in the performance. There are authentic pieces of Irish culture during the show but that culture is glamorized for a stage performance.  Regardless of the views on the performance Riverdance has been a worldwide sensation for 20 years because of the celebration of Irish culture.  

– Tracy Venella 


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