Rhythm of The Dance – Ipswich Regent
Rhythm of the Dance has played to sold-out audiences across four continents of the world and over fifty countries. Now, in its 23rd year, the show toured to the Regent Theatre this week, to the delight of Suffolk theatregoers.
This brand new 2023 Christmas production features live performances from world-class musicians, star vocalists and world-champion Irish dancers. There certainly was an air of anticipation and excitement in the auditorium at the Regent, especially as the show started ten minutes late! However, the company engaged the audience from the beginning right up to the end of this two-hour, high-energy performance.
The show started with a lone guitarist on stage, but he was soon joined by another musician playing the Irish flute, and then by the troupe of fantastic dancers and the entire live band. The dancers are incredibly talented: their intricate footwork, musicality and grace combined in the beauty of traditional Irish step dancing at its finest. Irish step dancing is characterised by rapid and intricate foot and leg movements, with the upper body typically kept upright and the arms held at the dancer’s side. This form of dancing has gained global popularity through the effervescent charm and energy of shows like Rhythm of the Dance and Riverdance.
National Dance Company of Ireland are a large troupe who have been impeccably rehearsed. The female dancers were precise, light in the air and beautiful to watch. The male dancers brought a thrilling power and energy to their stamps and syncopated rhythms as they navigated the complexities of the choreography with ease. The dance sequences were dazzling and visually stunning, especially as the show incorporated wonderful imagery of Ireland’s beautiful scenery via the film projections on the backdrop. It was a clever juxtaposition of tradition and technology.
The show interweaves traditional dance, Irish folk music and song into a colourful, uplifting, and spectacular evening. The live musicians were outstanding and had the audience clapping their hands, tapping their feet, and even singing along! The unashamed escapism, catchy folk tunes and electrifying dance numbers served an early dose of Christmas cheer to the Ipswich audience on a cold and rainy November evening. The female blonde vocalist was amazing, singing festive favourites including Last Christmas, Silent Night and Merry Christmas Everyone with unaffected warmth and sincerity.
The two lead dancers deserve a special mention because they were extraordinary. Dancing together or solo, the sheer quality of their movement stood out, even amongst a company of world-champion dancers! At one point, the female lead danced solo accompanied by a musician playing the bodhrán (a framed drum). The musical interplay between the dancer and drummer was mesmerising. The male lead is simply a superstar – charismatic, nonchalant, and full of joy. He made the most complicated choreography look easy and his magnetic stage presence was reminiscent somehow of the great Gene Kelly, despite the differences in movement style. He was athletic, charming and his feet were on fire!
The costumes varied from plain black to silver sequins and the astonishing finale featured the whole company in a Christmas-themed number, the females wearing red Santa dresses, and the males debonair in red velvet jackets. The energy was off the scale and the audience was enraptured with the fast footwork, driving rhythms and infectious music. The two lead dancers interacted with the audience, drawing cheers and claps of approval. The evening ended on a glorious high and left the audience wanting more. If you get the chance to see this 5-star production, you will leave beaming, energised, and elated. A great piece of programming by the Regent Theatre once more.