Top note Ir­ish danc­ing

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SHOWS -

RISH mu­si­cal di­rec­tor and mu­si­cian Thomas John­ston re­turns to the Gold Coast next week with The Rhythms of Ire­land.

John­ston, 29, has played tra­di­tional Ir­ish mu­sic since he was seven and is now an ac­com­plished player of the tin whis­tle and uil­leann pipes (Ir­ish bag­pipes). His co-mu­si­cal di­rec­tor on the show, Martin O’Connell, is a five­time All Ire­land cham­pion but­ton ac­cor­dion player.

‘‘We have new num­bers, even in terms of the vi­su­als and in­stru­men­tals,’’ Thomas says. ‘‘It is re­worked, re­jigged, and vis­ually very beau­ti­ful.’’

River­dance, which had its birth at the in­ter­val of the 1994 Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test in Ire­land, and Lord of the Dance, cre­ated by chore­og­ra­pher and dancer Michael Flat­ley when he left River­dance in 1995 af­ter a row over cre­ative con­trol, are very dif­fer­ent to The Rhythms of Ire­land.

‘‘( Rhythms) doesn’t tell a story,’’ says Thomas, who has been with the show since its in­cep­tion in 1998.

‘‘That was a con­scious de­ci­sion. Mu­sic is the strength of the show. It’s in the songs and how they are pre­sented. Rhythms is a more per­sonal show. When River­dance and Lord of the Dance came into be­ing, they pushed out (the bound­aries of) Ir­ish danc­ing so much.

‘‘We don’t want it to be hardly recog­nis­able, so we have it grounded in tra­di­tional mu­sic.’’

Thomas says he drew on what he has known since child­hood; the old-style mu­sic, per­formed in pubs and fam­ily homes ac­com­pa­nied by tra­di­tional in­stru­ments such as the bodhran and fid­dle.

Chore­og­ra­phy is also a huge part of the show, which has been seen by more than three mil­lion peo­ple world­wide. It has 14 dancers and singers, and a plethora of Ir­ish solo danc­ing stars. Fe­male lead Anna McGuire, a world Ir­ish danc­ing cham­pion, also per­formed in River­dance, and male lead An­thony Street was lead dancer in Lord of the Dance.

Thomas’ favourite parts in this year’s show are a hu­mor­ous song about an old man go­ing to the fair, and the set dance.

plays The Arts Cen­tre Gold Coast on Mon­day at 8pm. Tick­ets are $69.90.

Dancers in

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