Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Rian

Rian is a fusion of the old and the new, bringing together traditional Irish music with contemporary dance. The musical side of the performance is directed by Liam Ó Maonlaí of the Hothouse Flowers and the dance is choreographed by Michael Keegan-Dolan of Fabulous Beast Dance Company.

The music is mostly trad, with a sprinkle of non-traditional influences. It's all of a high quality; Ó Maonlaí is particularly impressive, performing with the piano, harp, guitar, bodhrán, and other instruments, as well as singing.

Initially I was concerned that the dance style lacked the vibrancy of trad, and might prove elegant but dull. Fortunately Rian builds up to a higher tempo, and about half an hour into the performance it moves from refined gracefulness to a faster and more seductive form of dance. The guitar/double bass accompaniment for this shift in pace is one of the musical highlights of the performance.

The programme for the show lists the 108 dance movements used, with a wonderful variety of names: "Spine Witch", "Coccyx Boxer", "Jumpy Electric Step", "Louise is a Bird" and a great many Rabbit-related names, my favourite being "Kicking The Sleeping Rabbit". There are considerable similarities to many of the movements, which depending on your taste can be seen as a pleasing consistency of style or just a little too much repetition. My one criticism is that perhaps a few of the dance sequences could have been slightly shorter.

The two parts of the performance - the music and dance - are both good in their own right but the real aim of the performance is to make them work together. In this Rian is successful, creating a satisfying and innovative harmony between trad music and contemporary dance.

Rian has a short run: there are shows on 7th and 8th October at 7:30 pm and a matinee at 2 pm on 8th October. The performance runs for 1 hour 50 minutes. Tickets cost €15 to €35.


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