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Stepping lively into spring

Oh, to be an Irish step dancer — with flowing mahogany hair and a steady supply of high-octane energy packed inside a well trained and muscled physique and wearing a cute blue outfit with black tights and shoes loaded with fairy dust.

This may have to wait until the next fine life, but I’m on the list.

Just what put me in the mood to jig across a stage with uninvolved arms and frenetic feet, you ask? It happened by way of an email from the Craterian Theater at the Collier Center for Performing Arts. As we know, their doors have been shuttered for months now, along with most other live performance venues. I ache for the millions involved with making sure the show goes on. I will sob tears of joy when we are back inside hearing, seeing and applauding once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

In honor of spring, St. Patrick’s Day and all things Eire, The Crate is offering a livestream for Rhythm of the Dance, a complete program of award-winning Irish step dancing and superlative music performed by the gobsmacking talented dancers and musicians with the National Dance Company of Ireland. For the entire month of March, $20 inclusive will buy the 90-minute show to enjoy in the comfort of one’s easy chair — thick slice of soda bread in hand, and crying into your Guinness for the bonnie homeland.

When you consider all angles, the obvious advantages to streaming are many, like being able to pause dancers in mid-hop. Instead of sitting next to a snoozer or chair mate who wouldn’t smile or clap if their sainted mother’s life depended on it, you can clap, weep (again with the weeping), jig in your chair, or play a game of darts. You can turn up (or down) the volume on the staccato tapping of all those determined soles and not worry over having a few fillings shaken loose. And it’s available to watch again at leisure for the rest of March.

But, I thought, gee it’s not going to be nearly as exciting as watching in person. My television isn’t smart enough to stream stuff, so I watched Rhythm of the Dance on my laptop and lying down. I was able to enjoy aspects one would never see from a stationary seat and became engrossed. There were close-ups of their lightning-charged feet, which were still a blur, and I do not see how they manage to keep from tripping themselves, thereby causing an ugly and unfortunate domino effect. The camera moved in for tight shots of the dancers, musicians and a fine singing laddie. I noticed small things like how they hold their hands in soft fists by their sides uniformly. I could see the details of their tap/ballet shoes and how the toes on the women’s shoes showed wear from dancing on point at times. The precision of the troupe is as good as it gets.

I wondered about their personal stories. There must be a ton of drama in a young group of that size. Who loved whom, maybe from afar? Did they miss their folks, and how many of the women are named Colleen? Do their feet look and feel like colcannon after the knocking about they receive? Is there room on the bus for all those foot-soaking basins? Anyway, by the end of the show, I felt like they were old friends. I smiled for the uplift along with many formerly somber Ukrainians in the audience.

The National Dance Company of Ireland has toured for 22 years and delighted 56 countries with their amazing feats. This show was filmed during a live performance for Odessa in the Ukraine in September of 2019. Little did they know that in a short while, their health and livelihood would be seriously challenged. It felt good helping even in a slight way to support their hard work, reward the talent and further the efforts of our Craterian Theater until we meet again.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.