Trinity Irish Dance Company review- Equal footing at the Auditorium Theatre, Chicago

Trinity Irish Dance Company; photo by Lois Greenfield

Trinity Irish Dance Company (TIDC) leaped, spun, stomped and flew across the Auditorium Theatre’s famous stage at 50 E. Ida B. Wells Drive, Chicago, on February 29, 2020, bringing 12 dance pieces including 3 world premieres and a Chicago premiere, interspersed with 3 musical interludes- one a world premiere and with a special appearance by Liz Carroll– to a sold-out audience primed to appreciate the strength and intensity of their innovative take on traditional Irish concert dance.

Guided by founder/artistic director Mark Howard and Associate Artistic Director Chelsea Hoy, the company presented a fully realized self-contained universe of contemporary and classically rooted percussive dance, conspicuously minus traditional “cute” female rôles. Here the power is  all in the choreography, set to compelling Celtic-driven music, presented in virtuoso form by the TIDC musicians, Jake James, Christopher Devlin, Brendan O’Shea, and Steven Rutledge, with special musical guests, and as composed by various artists. The performance was dedicated to Tim O’Hare.

Trinity Irish Dancers airborne; photo by Lois Greenfield

Highlights of the event included:

The world premiere of LISTEN, choreographed by Colin Dunne, described by Hoy as “the best percussive dancer who has ever lived”. It is the only piece he’s ever created for an ensemble repertory company, dedicated to composer Michael Kirkpatrick, and is like nothing you’d imagine, described as “a deconstruction of step dance weighted by a reverence for the ancestors”.

The world premiere of HOME, the 2d piece co-choreographed by Mark Howard and Chelsea Hoy, which brought the 4 TIDC musicians and 2 dancers together around a table, without any separation between the art forms/artists.

The Chicago premiere of GODDESS, choreographed in 2004 by Seán Curran, dedicated to Sunderajan Rajagopalan. This was an unusual spiritually imbued hybrid of traditional Indian movement with Irish stepdance, in gorgeous 2-toned costumes, thoroughly mesmerizing.

PUSH, choreographed in 2014 by Mark Howard, in which 2 males and 2 females go toe to toe. The rapid-fire rhythms seen here are unlike any other in conventional Irish dancing or in American tap. On equal footing, the dancers make a joyful noise before the onlooking world.

The world premiere of AMERICAN TRAFFIC, choreographed by Michelle Dorrance and Melinda Sullivan, co-commissioned by the Auditorium Theatre with sponsorship support from Pamela Crutchfield; this was an incredible hybrid of Irish Step and American tap dance- seemingly an entirely new dance language. There is an intense “groove” to the piece, as the music is produced a cappella by the dancing feet to the accompaniment of wildly expressive drums and hand percussion by Steven Rutledge.

Michelle Dorrance and Melinda Sullivan rehearsing with Trinity Irish Dance Company, photo by Chelsea Hoy

Kudos to the production staff, including Al Crawford and J. Arthur Franjoine for lighting up the stage; Jeffrey Hancock, Shamrock Stitchery, Birgit Rattenborg Wise, Kristine Fatchet, Agnes Mahoney, Courtney D’Angelo, Cathy Fitzmaurice for costuming the action; and Trevor Powers for compelling audio.

For information and tickets to all the fine programming at the Auditorium Theatre, go to www.auditoriumtheatre.org

 

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