In 1994, during the annual Eurovision Song Competition, a traditional dance form went from a local passion to an international craze. During a seven-minute interval between songs at the event in Dublin, Riverdance was first performed and broadcasted.

Standing ovations and roaring applause ensued, giving the artists on stage a small taste of what was to come. Indeed, that first exposure of Irish dance to the world opened a veritable treasure box that has only grown in size and force in the nearly two decades since.

What was it that was so captivating about that performance? The infallible timing of the troupe of dancers, the rhythm of the music and the pure joy exuding from the stage was like nothing seen before.

In the wake of the success of Riverdance, which continues to be one of the most viewed performances of all time, flocks of impressed fans have made a career of studying and reinventing traditional Irish dance.

The scope of influence of Irish dance can be felt all over the world, from America to Europe to Israel.

This past year, Yair Werdyger brought his Irish dance company to the Tel Aviv stage at the annual Hot Dance Festival at the Suzanne Dellal Center. What is clear is that what was once a local pastime in Ireland has become a recognized practice in the dance community.

One of the first descendants of this herd is Spirit of the Dance, which will visit Israel for a cross-country tour beginning next week. The show, produced by David King, transcends the borders of Ireland and delves into many different genres of world music. Blending together salsa, tango and flamenco beats with Irish music, Spirit of the Dance has been known to quicken the heartbeat of audience members of all ages and nationalities.

The show blossomed 16 years ago as an answer to the growing demand for shows of its kind. As Ireland has a rich culture of dance competitions, the cast was easy to assemble. Only the finest were offered a place on King’s stage, making certain that the symmetry would be finely tuned and the energy levels sky high. The first season proved that King was on to something with his foray into fusion.

Nine Global Awards strengthened the sentiment.

For their international tour, Spirit of the Dance has put together an all-new production entitled Dance around the World 2013. The company plans to tour extensively with this production, with a jam packed roster already booked for 2013. Oliver Lewis, who won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest violin playing in his rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee, is featured in this production. New choreography by master dance maker Alan Harding brings out new sides of the cast of 30 talented dancers.

During their stay in Israel, Spirit of the Dance will perform in Kibbutz Yifat, Beersheba, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Kfar Blum, Kiryat Motzkin and Haifa. The show is appropriate for the entire family. As most performances bring the audience to their feet, the production staff recommends wearing comfortable shoes to the show.

Spirit of the Dance will be in Israel from December 27 through January 5.

For tickets and more information: visit www.bimot.co.il or www.spiritofthedance.com.



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