Nationalistic identification can be most dynamically expressed in performance art. No better example of this notion exists then how the world came to understand the country of Ireland through the phenomenon known as Riverdance, which became one the most profitable entertainment ventures of the last twenty years. So, when it came time to update the show for a new generation, original producers John McColgan and Moya Doherty stayed true to portraying the cross-cultural changing demographic that makes up the city of Dublin.
What they have created in Heartbeat of Home, which had its United States premiere last night at the Oriental Theatre, is nothing short of thrilling. Traditional Irish footwork that we came to know through the success of Michael Flatley, is now fused with hip-hop and latin rhythms that more accurately represent the cultural diversity of Dublin in 2014. Theatrically, Heartbeat of Home is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor and is more akin to Stomp, Blue Man Group and Bring In The Noise/Bring In The Funk then it is to its Celtic cousin.
But the biggest departure is that of Heartbeat of Home’s stellar dancers, which are equal part actors which is the key to making each “scene” work as truthfully as it does. The company is lead by the incomparable Bobby Hodges who innately knows how to control the action of the evening and is as comfortable dancing a traditional Celtic stomp as he is a Gene Kelly film noir number with a set that takes us high atop a skyscraper girder.
Some dancers just naturally relate to their audience, and this production has numerous performers that do so, especially Teneisha Bonner’s gymnastically induced Afro-Cuban moves and Angelo Gioffre dominating Latin footwork who both had the audience eating out of their hands. More than just a dynamic roster of some the world’s best dancers, Heartbeat of Home also brings with it one of the best on stage-orchestras you will ever hear, including the utter-worldly Ryan Quigley blowing a trumpet no human could possibly do.
Heartbeat of Home will most definitely surpass any expectations you will have if you are a fan of Riverdance. But for you known edification, do not think of this as a mere dance show or sequel. Rather, Heartbeat of Home a honest reflection of an ever changing world demographic that is best embraced and understood through the performing arts. To that end, Heartbeat of Home is a stand alone knockout.