Spirit will leave you breathless

Spirit of the Dance - Can Can ENGSNL00120110721135212
Spirit of the Dance - Can Can ENGSNL00120110721135212

Spirit of the Dance

Congress Theatre

Until August 23

Review by Roger Paine

It is three years since this ever-popular and multi-award winning show last came to Eastbourne.

Devotees of Irish Dance who doubtless have been jigging and and tapping their feet in excited anticipation will not be disappointed.

Based on Michael Flatley’s legendary ‘Riverdance’, it has been seen around the globe by more than 25 million people.

There is hardly anywhere, and at any time in the world today, when the foot-stomping, kicking, twirling dancing to traditional Irish music is not being performed. It is a theatrical phenomenon.

This performance is directed by principal dancer Joseph Miller and his infectious energy and unflagging effervescence, including encouraging the audience to clap and yelp, is the driving force behind the dancing.

Ably abetted by flame-haired Jess Henderson, her ‘Dancer’s Tale’ is especially moving, petite Jo Bispham, whose classical ballet background constantly shines through, and a chorus of outstanding dancers, 13 and three guys, this production will delight the aficionados and wow any newcomers.

Although the spotlight is firmly on traditional Irish dance many other styles are included - Scottish highland flings, Spanish flamenco, Cuban salsa and a fast-paced, jazzed-up version of the French can-can.

The dances are interspersed with traditional and modern songs performed by three talented singers, The Celtic Ladies.

The production’s closing numbers, ‘Fosse’, in which the entire cast in black outfits, white gloves and bowler hats dance and re-group in ever-changing patterns, and ‘Clapping’ when they line-up sitting on the edge of the stage almost touching the audience to perform a mesmerising synchronised dance with their arms and hands, form an thrilling climax.

Whilst no one can feel short-changed, the show’s programme, in spite of its international pedigree, is two sides of photocopied A4. More appropriate for a festival of country dancing in the village hall.

Apart from that clumsy piece of marketing this ‘Spirit’, although only just over an hour and a half long, will leave you breathless.