Maeve Fearon, Dancer, Irish Dance Troupe, Shannon Company
As we neared the end of the last ever North American Tour of Riverdance, it was evident that the show will most certainly be missed. We have had the most amazing response here in North America and I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to the thousands of people who have come to see our shows over the past few months.
I spoke a few weeks ago about the feeling you get just as you are about to walk out on stage. On many occasions on this tour, regardless of how many hours I’ve spent on a bus or how tired my legs are, there is no way to describe seeing the audience for the first time.
Vera Abbott, an avid fan recently wrote on the Riverdance website :
“The dancers appear before you, and your feet want to start tapping.That intro to every show gets to me every time. It never gets old.”
You can hear a pin drop but immediately as we dance, you see people nudging each other, smiling, sitting more upright on their seats. Their expression changes almost immediately. As we finish our last number – “Heartland”, the energy is insane with everyone young and old on their feet clapping and jumping around. One night, as we finished our show in Fredericton, we were uplifted by the sight of four women in the front row doing their own take on a four-hand reel and I will never forget the night in Chicago seeing an elderly man crying in the front row. As Melissa Olsen, a fan recently commented “It has the ability to bring grown men to tears, and children stare in astonishment.”
There have been those who have also seen the show several times and keep coming back for more. Take Rick Milkse who wrote “I have seen Riverdance in Milwaukee/Chicago and Riverdance on Broadway 15 times. I have never grown tired of this fantastic show. Cheers!!!” or the lady who bagged front row seats for three consecutive nights in Philadelphia. She waited outside the stage door every single night and explained that the last show we performed in Philadelphia was her 20th to date.
There are also the more extreme fans like Jipeng Ma, from China who first seen the show when we performed live on Chinese TV in 2009. He has since seen the show in China and HongKong and surprised every member of the cast on both tours with self-portraits. In January, he made the big move from China and became one of many exchange students studying in Dublin. He has also just recently learned how to dance himself!
Moya Doherty (Riverdance Producer) once said “In times of great turmoil, we tend to find solace in literature or music or dance”.
Quite often, we get letters and cards from fans but reading Rose Ellison’s letter in St.Johns, Canada touched all of us and made Moya’s words rang true . Rose (a cerebal palsy sufferer) wrote “Believe me, I won’t ever forget the night when I saw such enthusiasm and such wonder.I hope that when you go your separate ways, you won’t forget each other or the wonderful impact you had on the world”.
We were also lucky enough to meet the brave young Andrew in Great Falls, NY who waited by our bus with his mum after the show. He was wheelchair bound and unable to speak but his mum informed us that he was so delighted to have finally seen the show live. It is these moments that remind you that your not only doing what you love but your bringing joy to other people in the process. We have also had the pleasure as a cast to have family members and friends come to see it and just tonight I was delighted to have my family from Conneticut see me dancing in Hartford.
In the words of Frank Sinatra, this week we “face the final curtain” and I just want to thank each and every person for your amazing response to this North American tour. You have certainly made the long bus journeys and any hiccups along the way well worth it. So here’s to putting a smile on your face…and mine too!