I was going to see Heartbeat of Home*, from the makers of Riverdance. I. Was. Excited. You probably wouldn’t guess this about me, but I love the theatre. I love being in the presence of the incredible talent, artistry, and of course, the storytelling that happens on a stage. Besides seeing Chimerica in June, I haven’t been to show since 2011.
A bit of history: I saw Riverdance when I was in university because I got a ticket from a client of my mom. Initially, I wasn’t that interested in going but being the person I am I couldn’t let a theatre ticket go to waste!
It was a spectacular spectacle. I sat there in the second row staring up in awe and these amazing dancers flying through the air, stomping their feet and managing to have no jiggly bits.
I had high expectations for Heartbeat of Home, and it didn’t disappoint.
The show started off strong – thirty-eight dancers and a ten-piece band stomped and played their onto the stage, telling the tale of emigration after the Famine on the wild Atlantic ocean.
The dancers wore black sequined jackets with wide shoulders which made me think of Michael Jackson’s duet with his sister Janet – Scream. The military precision and athleticism of their dancing was on another level.
As the show progressed, so did the times – the music shifted from violins and stomping to hip-hop and salsa. The produces combined a lot of different elements and alternated between romantic pieces and hard core Irish dancing.
The dancers really threw themselves into every movement, with so much energy combined with the music, I was enjoying every moment. Apparently other people were too, because the show brought the audience to their feet halfway through the first act!
For awhile I was thinking that I didn’t really get the story line, so I took a read through the program.
“Heartbeat of Home doesn’t try to be literal in its storytelling. It takes place in a dreamland of oceans and starlight,” writes Joseph O’Connor, who put together the lyrics.
“Neon-shining cities of the 21st Century and epic, open spaces. After the dream-voyage of Act One, Act Two is built around a wedding, the whole piece a love-story of what might happen if beautiful cultures met in a vision.”
Got it. That explains why I wanted the song “The Night I Danced With You” by beautiful singer Lucia Evans to be my wedding song.
The second act started off slowly, in my opinion, with a soft shoe number, but continued to crescendo throughout the act. One particularly compelling scene was the re-creation of the Lunch atop a Skyscraper photograph. The visual effects are such that you feel like you’re on that skyscraper in New York with the dancers and that they genuinely could fall umpteen stories down.
I haven’t mentioned the band! In Riverdance, the band wasn’t as prominent as they are in Heartbeat of Home. They play drums, uilleann pipes, fiddles – one guy even put down his trumpet and starts playing a conch! – all the while interacting with the dancers.
The pace increased throughout the second act, from a very alluring flamenco to a modern street dance battle, ending in a battalion of dancers, the singer and the band hitting the stage for cabaret-style finale.
The only thing I found annoying about the show is that I couldn’t pick one dancer to stare at because they were all great!
It made me so happy to be there (not to be cliché, but it brought tears to my eyes. No crying though) because I had really missed these kinds of things while I was in Martinique. I’d pick a show over a party any day!
It was also amazing to think that I got to see the preview of this show, in Ireland, thanks to my lovely travel blog.
Overall, it was a thunderous success!
Heartbeat of Home is going to be in Toronto from January – March 2014 – book your tickets and go see it!
* I received a complimentary ticket to Heartbeat of Home as delegate of the TBEX conference but I wasn’t asked to write anything and especially not such a glowing review!