June 2012 will mark the end of an era. Earlier this year, the original Irish Riverdance company started its farewell tour in the U.S. After 16 years of performing in front of thousands of fans across the country, the journey will soon come to an end. Thursday evening, the company, led by lead dancer Jason O’Neill, took the stage at the Chumash Casino and performed in front of a packed Samala Showroom.
The concept of Riverdance became known all over the world in record time after a seven-minute-long performance in 1994 at the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin, Ireland. Back then the lead dancer was Michael Flatley, who is widely credited with making Riverdance a true phenomenon. At the Chumash Casino, Jason O’Neill impressed the audience with his fast feet and amazing solos. The dancing was truly the highlight of the show, and when the fast-moving men and women with their rigid bodies and scissoring legs moved around the stage, you couldn’t help but feel spellbound. Unfortunately, the stage seemed to be too small for such big a performance, and it looked like the dancers oftentimes felt confined. Nevertheless, each performer made it all seem effortless.
In between dance scenes, the crew’s four musicians did their very best to keep the excitement going, but the songs and the fiddle solos often felt too lengthy. Additionally, a couple of flamenco numbers seemed out of place, but it was all made up for in a dance-off between tappers Michael E. Wood, Ben Mapp, O’Neill, and two of his fellow riverdancers. They all did a tremendous job showcasing each of their of individual dance styles and, in the end come, making it all come together.