‘Riverdance’ at Wolf Trap by Erica Laxson

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Riverdance is synonymous with spectacular Irish dancing, but the hit performance offers more than you could ever expect. From one-of-a kind musicians to a cultural exploration of dance, Riverdance’s two hours of heart-pounding entertainment cannot be beat. If you’ve ever dreamed of going to the show, be warned, the group is performing its last US tour.

Over the course of two visually stunning acts, principal dancers Caterna Coyne, James Greenan, Alana Mallon, Jason O’Neill, Callum Spencer, and Chloey Turner transported the audience to beautiful moments of Irish heritage with just a few steps. The rhythmic perfection of their tapping feet accented the traditional Irish folk music effortlessly and added a whole new layer of precision percussion to Ireland’s most popular songs.

'Harbour of the New World – Oscail an Doras (Open The Door)'. Photo courtesy of 'Riverdance.'

Tappers Jason E. Bernard and Benjamin Mapp were, by far, the audience’s favorite characters of the evening. So diametrically opposite of our Irish heroes, they humorously paralleled the  atmosphere of begrudging coexistence the Irish met upon immigration to a tone of cultural respect and artistic appreciation we know today. Flamenco soloist Martia Martinez-Rey flashed fancy foot work across the silver stage. All eyes were drawn to her flitting feet, accented by the colorful, flowing skirts she so expertly twirled around her legs.

Mark Alfred (drums/percussion/bodhran) was one of the most entertaining performers on stage. From mood setting percussion to hilarious musical comedy, Alfred was a hit throughout the entire show. Musical director Declan Masterson (keyboards) and musicians Matt Bashford (uilleann pipes/low whistles), Niamh Ni Charran (fiddle/foncertina) and Dave McGauran (saxophone) filled Wolf’s Traps acoustic hall with soulful music that touched the heart. Charran’s endless smiles embodied the true joy of music and infected the entire audience with happiness anytime she wowed with a solo.

Costume Designer Joan Bergin puts her own spin on the traditional Irish Dance costumes and clothed her dancers and singers in unforgettably eye popping colors and fabrics. Set Designer Robert Ballagh created a world on stage that was good for two things, showcasing the phenomenal dancers and using the musicians as integral pieces of the performance. Lighting Designer Benjamin Pearcy played with colors to portray specifics emotions and settings with just a flick of a switch.

Riverdance is more than just and Irish dance performance. Prepare for an evening of cultural exploration that will touch every part of your heart and stir the desire to tap your feet in time to the spirited tunes. Whether you decided to envy the dancers unimaginable skills or enjoy their awe inspiring moves is up to you.

'American Wake.' Photo courtesy of 'Riverdance.'

5 stars for a spectacularly entertaining evening of dance and song that simply cannot compare to anything you’ve seen before. A must-see for anyone who loves anything Irish, appreciates the art of dance, or needs a little Game of Thrones fix.

Running Time: Two hours and 15 minutes with one 20 minute intermission.

Riverdance ended its performances on June 17, 2012. For future performances at Wolf Trap, check their calendar.