Ireland is a country with a rich history of legends and myths.

Leprechauns, banshees and magical spirits have all been immortalized in Celtic literature.

The enchantment of Ireland is known to many, interpreted by schools and cherished by masses.

This weekend, choreographer Yair Werdyger will unveil his ode to Ireland in an epic production entitled The Magic of Ireland. The annual Hot Dance Festival at the Suzanne Dellal Center will host the evening.

For Werdyger, this performance marks yet another major step towards his life dream, to bring Irish dance to Israel.

“Sixteen years ago, when all this began, I could never have imagined where I would be today. I am beyond happy,” he said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.

Werdyger is the artistic director of the Trikotera Irish Dance Troupe and the founder and director of the Irish Academy of Dance in Israel. He also serves as a judge for international Irish dance competitions.

As a younger man, Werdyger was wowed by footage he saw of shows like River Dance.

“In 1994, like everyone in the whole world,” Werdyger reminisces, “I was exposed to River Dance. That started the awareness of Irish dance in the world. I was totally stunned by it. The next year, my brother bought me a CD of Irish music for my bar mitzva.”

As Werdyger was discovering the floating melodies of Ireland, another major event took place.

“Michael Flatley then opened Lord of the Dance. I got a video of it straight away. I started to teach myself with those videos. I also looked for places to study. I called a lot of studios in Israel, and no one knew what Irish dance was.”

Propelled by his passion and just released from army service, Werdyger packed his bags and headed for London. Unlike Israel, England was chock-a-block with traditional and modern Irish dance classes and performances.

Surrounded by a wealth of knowledge and information about the form, Werdyger was hit by what would become his mission.

“It was in London that I decided to start an Irish dance company in Israel,” he says.

Upon returning from England, Werdyger held an audition for dancers. To his surprise, dozens of performers turned up to become part of Werdyger’s vision.

“We started with 30 dancers. At the time, I went back and forth to Ireland to learn the dances so that I could teach them to my cast,” he recounts.

Then, in 2010, Werdyger was called to audition for Lord of the Dance. With a revolving cast of world-class performers, the production has a list of potential replacements on hand at all times.

Though there are no guarantees, Werdyger has been assured that when the time is right, he will be called to join the show. However, he is totally committed to the journey he has begun in Israel.

“This is my cross to bear,” he says, “bringing Irish dance to Israel.”

The Magic of Ireland is the largest production that Trikotera has presented to date. As in any Irish dance performance, the stage will be filled with joyous smiles and tons of energy.

“I always say it’s impossible to perform without dance. It is such an important part of the Irish culture. After all, this form emerged from the dances in the pubs,” he explains.

The cast includes 10 dancers plus the musicians of the Irish music ensemble Brios. The score is a combination of traditional Irish tunes adapted and arranged by composer Alex Reznikovich, as well as original pieces.

“We matched the show to the Israeli audience. I like traditional Irish music, but after 15 minutes the audience gets bored. So here, we added some Mediterranean, electronic and Balkan music. There is not a dull moment in this performance,” assures Werdyger.

The Magic of Ireland will run at the Suzanne Dellal Center on July 6 at 10 p.m. For tickets, visit www.suzannedellal.org.il. For more information about Irish dance in Israel, visit www.irishdance.co.il.

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