Spirit of the Dance Encore Performance brings the Spirit of the Dance back to the Branson stage with two hours of unique breathtaking non-stop high energy entertainment that the whole family will enjoy. As I watched the performance on March 17, I was totally immersed in the precision of their Irish dancing. It was joy to see and hear that was made even more so because of the beautiful vocals, colorful costuming and other styles of dance that are delicately woven into this unique exciting entertainment experience.
From beginning to end the “Spirit” of the show is in the hearts, professional passion and talents of its dancers and vocalists and, what a great job they do! The Lead Irish Dancers, Courtnay Collins and Oliver Barrows head an exceptional cast of dancers including Jacqui Bell, Rebecca Jennings, Ellen Tress, Devan Jay Kellett, Beth Leanne, Peri Walsham, Joe Farmer, Davide Leo, Blair Muir, Rowan Lewis and Mitchell Jare. Dasha Toropkina, who plays the part of the “Spirit,” does vocals and dances.
The very first number, “Irish Love,” demonstrates that this show is not just a reproduction of “Riverdance,” but that it has a direction and excitement of its own. Its haze, lilting mystical Celtic music with a subtle blending of Danny Boy introduces the “Spirit,” performed by Dasha Toropkina, who performed beautifully here and throughout the show. It is a breathtaking experience as they transition from the “gentleness” of the opening introduction into Irish performance dancing with an explosion of sound as their feet hit the stage in a mind boggling demonstration of speed and precision. It’s a magnificent thing to experience.
“Irish performance dancing” or “Stepdancing” as it is commonly called, was made popular by “Riverdance,” over two decades ago and is a style of dance incorporating precise quick movements of the feet with a stiff upper body and the arms held fairly close to the sides. The wonderful thing about Spirit of the Dance is that it takes Stepdancing and weaves it in with other styles of dance such as the Spanish Flamingo, Waltz, American Western, Scottish Fling, Rock and Roll and more into a beautiful and exciting entertainment experience.
And it’s not just what they do, but how they do it. The performers are outstanding and their costuming is amazing, not only as to its color and variety, but in how often it is changed. The choreography of each number and the way each flows seamlessly from one to the other are other factors that make this show a must see.
Some might have a question about whether or not kids would like this show. During the intermission I picked a couple with two young boys, the Mike Neff family visiting from Oklahoma. When asked if he would recommend the show to others he said, “Absolutely, it’s a good family show, high energy, lots of costume changes and great lighting. Neff said his boys, who are seven and six years old were having a great time and particularly liked the “quick feet” and colorful costumes.
There’s not a lot of vocals in the show, but they are all original and strategically placed to enhance a special moment of the show. Most are performed by Dasha Toropkina, as “The Spirit” and one by Lead Irish Dancer Courtnay Collins.
Typically, when I write about a show, and while fully realizing that my “highlights” might not be the same as others, I mention a few of my favorites. The “Two Tribes” number with its blending of soft toe Irish dance into an explosion of powerful precision hard shoe Stepdancing amid its costume changes and everything else in between was a beautiful and powerful way to end the first half of the show.
Another personal highlight was the opening of the second half of the show right after intermission. The “Spirit,” Dasha Toropkina, wows the audience as she sings “Coming Home,” as part of a full cast performance including a powerful Stepdance number. It was an amazing way to start the second half. Another favorite number for me was the full cast performance of the number “The Spirit of the Dance,” featuring Courtnay Collins who did a a superb job of dancing and performing the vocal.
Spirit of the Dance is a unique one of a kind show. It is filled with excitement, high energy, color, action, Irish dance and vocals performed superbly by a cast that has a passion for what they are doing. It is a show that the whole family can share and enjoy together.
For additional information or tickets for Spirit of the Dance Encore Performance, or for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com.