Last night I could have been sitting in a theatre in London, Vegas, or even New York. But I was seated at the front of the Millennium Forum in Derry. Such was the atmosphere and the sheer talent that was on the Derry stage. Shows like this not only put Derry on the world map, but at the very centre of the world culture map.
Raymond Sweeney (Creative Director and Principal Dancer) and his cast, combine the true story of the Titanic with dance and music, to create an intoxicating, invigorating phenomenon on stage. From start to finish the Derry audience were foot tapping, clapping, and in sheer awe of the spectacular display that was before them.
This show is not just dancing: it's choreography, traditional Irish music, props and multimedia. A large screen provides factual information about the Titanic throughout the performance.
As we enjoy the outstanding dance and music we are also made aware of the harrowing factual inadequacies of the ship and its journey. It's emotional and it's tear-jerking, but at all times it's exhilarating.
As I took my seat last night with mother (who has a broken shoulder) I really didn't expect to leave the theatre on such a 'high'. But that I did. I was memorised by the ability of this show to hold the constant attention of the audience. One's attention span never wavered. The story was told through the mode of dance and no words were needed. I'm no dancing expert but in my view there wasn't a foot out of tune!!!!
Rebecca Winckworth and her enchanting voice provided the singing from beginning to end. Her rendition of 'The Parting Glass' certainly had my eyes clouded. It was poignant in every way.
Nikita Cassidy and Nawal Elbadri, principal dancers, shone throughout the night. James Keegan, Cathal Keaney and Louise Hayden, equally so. Jim Higgins, Stephen Doherty, Conal Early, Richard Neylon and Kevin Corbet were simply enthralling with their music from the start. It really was traditional Irish music at its very best. Raymond Sweeney showed all his expertise and more from his years with Lord of the Dance. He excelled as lead in his very own show.
Up until now, we have witnessed a variety of Irish dance experience take on the world stage since Riverdance set the tone in 1994. Now we are moving into a new experience....that of TITANICDANCE.
The show involves and showcases everyone that was on the ship, from the first class passengers to the boiler room workers. No one is left out. This 90 minute show is both physically and mentally challenging for all the cast but each member exceeded all expectations last night.
I'm often left very frustrated by a Derry audience's inability to give a standing ovation. But last night they surpassed themselves. They didn't just give one standing ovation. They gave two! I guess that says it all.
This betrothal of the Titanic story and Irish dance in all its ingenuity and brilliance, will surely conquer the world stage as those that have gone before.
The Titanic is certainly a big part of Irish history. But last night I really believe that I witnessed the onset of another piece of Irish history in the making. The Titanic ship went 'down' in reality, but TITANICDANCE is certainly set to 'soar'.