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PortWatch

March 28, 2014

A heart-stopping performance

Team behind 'Riverdance' brings new show to Boston

Chances are you’ve seen and heard the thunderous roar of “Riverdance.”

The international show has been touring for two decades and has become a performance institution around the globe. But now, a new Irish dance extravaganza is stepping into town and taking viewers on a global journey — no passport required.

“Heartbeat of Home,” which was put together by the same creative team as “Riverdance,” celebrates the relationship between Irish dance culture and dance traditions from around the world. It opened yesterday in Boston’s Wang Theatre.

“Dance is an international language,” said Moya Doherty, producer of both “Riverdance” and “Heartbeat of Home.” “(These shows tell) a story through dance, and that can be understood by anyone in the world.”

Whereas “Riverdance” focused heavily on Irish culture, “Heartbeat of Home” reflects the connected world of the 21st century.

“I suppose globalization is here now,” Doherty said. “Twenty years ago, Ireland was a monoculture, now it’s a multiculture.”

“Heartbeat of Home” embraces that multiculturalism and Ireland’s place in the global community. Irish dance is still a central part of the new show, but all the dancers in the troupe have backgrounds in multiple disciplines — ballet, tap, jazz and so on — and major parts of the show are built out of the traditions of Latin, Afro-Cuban and flamenco dancing.

“It celebrates those, as opposed to highlighting the differences, which I think is wonderful,” Doherty said. “It’s a really joyous, uplifting piece.”

Before “Riverdance,” Irish dance was largely governed and codified by a cultural heritage institution, An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha, which managed Irish dance as an art form. However, when “Riverdance” burst onto the scene, it revolutionized Irish dance, according to Doherty.

“With ‘Riverdance,’ it moved from a cultural, competitive art form to a professional art form, so that has impacted the art itself and the cultural expression over the last two decades,” she said.

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