Monday, 11 December 2017

A love story told in clicks

Photo credit: Uwe Klemens

Dance Masters! Best of Irish Dance swept away an enthusiastic audience in Berlin’s Tempodrom with a well balanced show of Irish dancing, tunes and songs embedded into a timeless story of love, passion and jealousy – by Franziska Kast, Irish Culture Events Berlin

‘Dance Master’ Patrick has a lot of foot work to do on the long road to his beloved Kate’s heart. Training a dance company for a show, Patrick falls for the beautiful dancer – who, unfortunately, does not seem to notice, let alone reciprocate his feelings as she’s dating fellow dancer Kevin.

A journey through time

It’s a simple plot, but it sets the scene for a lot of breathtaking performances of energetic Irish tap dance sets in perfect sync. Woven into it is an entertaining cultural history of Irish dancing which developed in close connection with traditional Irish music. The characteristic tap dancing that was made one of Ireland’s most successful cultural exports by shows like Riverdance during the 1990s, however, emerged first during the 18th century due to the often confined spaces for dancing during a music session.

The Dance Masters! of the time were traveling teachers who brought their knowledge to places all over the island. The audience get a glimpse of those days when Patrick falls asleep after a long day of rehearsing with the company and goes on a journey through time in his dreams. Colourful costumes – which the protagonists change for every scene – plus moves that seem to mock the laws of gravity and a stunning choreography by none less than Richard Griffin of Gaelforce fame all combine into an expressive and performative way of storytelling that would work even without the voice over narration. A large screen ensures that everyone in the large arena gets to follow the dancer’s every move.

Traditional live music

Another highlight of the evening is the six piece live band, whose sets consist of sing-along pub classics like “The Wild Rover” as well as gems of contemporary Celtic music like Dougie MacLean’s touching “Caledonia”. Barry Tierney (Guitar & Vocals), Ciara Murphy (fiddle), Aaron Dolan (Uillean Pipes and Whistle) and their fellow musicians present a bouquet of songs and the traditional jigs and reels whose rhythms lead to the development of the rapid dance steps.

The live music sets provide a welcome counterpoint to the restless, hypnotic clicking of the fiberglass tipped tap shoes without being any less energetic and lively. Music, dancing, beautiful images on the screen and costumes from different centuries are the perfect ingredients for an entertaining evening full of Irish joie de vivre and engaging rhythms and tunes. By the time Patrick finally holds Kate in his arms, the notoriously reserved Berlin audience have warmed up considerably, abandoning their seats to clap and tap along.

The cast of Dance Masters! are not let off the stage without performing several encores, and in the ensuing autograph session, none of them expresses any visible signs of fatigue after over two hours of providing high-energy, high-speed entertainment interrupted only by one short break.

The almost five-month tour of the ensemble continues until April 2nd, 2017 and guests dozens of venues in the Northern half of Germany. Please see Reset Production‘s website for tour schedules and tickets. Looking for the best 2017 Irish dance & music events in Berlin? Irish Culture Events Berlin will continue to find them for you and keep you posted!

Franziska is neither Irish, nor a Berliner, but managed to make herself at home in both cultural spheres. How the two combined to result in the launch of Irish Culture Events is a very long story which involves Irish pubs all over Berlin, fiddle music and St Patrick’s Day 2016. A writer, interviewer and critic, Franziska meets artists, blogs about Irish events in Berlin and reviews shows for you. Follow her and get the backstage insight of all things Irish in Berlin!