Local Irish dancer to direct international tour
Shawn Silver is where he wants to be smack in the middle of an international Irish dance production. Photo by Paul Daly
When you hear the words "Irish dancing," you think "Riverdance," don't you? Well, it's time to expand your horizons, friend. There's a whole lot more to the world of Irish dancing than Michael Flatley.
There's Shawn Silver for one. Local Irish dancer extraordinaire, Silver is the brains and brawn (along with partner Colleen Dunn Pickard) behind iDance, a dance school offering lessons in St. John's, Grand Falls and Iceland. (Check out www.idance.ca)
Silver's latest venture is equally international. He's joining with touring dance show "The Magic of Ireland," as both director and dancer. Created by Peter Jacobs of Independent Concert Productions, "Magic" is Canada's only touring Irish dance production, having wowed crowds across Germany, France, Belgium, Holland and the U.S. Plans are set to take the show to Iceland, Australia and Asia in the near future.
Silver is excited about joining the tour.
"It's what I've worked for. My whole goal all along was to provide opportunities for young people and emerging artists to participate in the exciting world of Irish music, dance and competition. Now that I'm directing this show, we've got these brilliant dancers - these world champion dancers - from all over the world, the U.K., Ireland, Canada and the States to work with. It's just amazing."
He said "Magic" is really geared towards families, at smaller venues missed by giant shows like "Riverdance." They aim to touch 1,000-3,000 seat theatres, and feature 10 to 12 dancers on stage (as opposed to "Riverdance's" 60).
Likening it in spirit to the kitchen parties we're familiar with, Silver says "Magic" is meant to be a shared experience, one that gets the audience involved, inviting them to clap and cheer. He notes it's also similar to the traditional "ceili" - social gatherings that have been happening in town halls across Ireland for time immemorial.
"It is exactly what an Irish dance show is meant to be - authentic, live and a sheer delight," he added.
In keeping with our own Celtic roots, "Magic" has many local connections. There's Silver of course, dancing and directing. There's a local female dancer on stage, Erica MacAulay. There are the costumes made by local designers, and even the stage artwork is Newfoundland-born.
Plus, Silver says, there's potential for even more contact points in future.
"We can now use our dance centre like a farm team; we can create a pool of talent and stream it directly into the show. We're really going to wave that Newfoundland banner."
Beyond the border
Of course, there's much more to the stage show than Newfoundland's contributions. "Magic" is also home to the incredible talent that is Andrew Vickers of Galway, Ireland. Touring since he was 15, Vickers is world-renowned in both the competitive and performing dance worlds. He leads the troupe of Irish dancers from all over the globe who make up the cast of "Magic."
Then there are the musicians. Toronto's Michael O'Grady encourages the audience to "really get into the show" with a joke as well as a song. It's this combination of music and dance that creates that true ceili atmosphere, says Silver.
Silver anticipates a Newfoundland show in the fall, or shortly after Christmas. Check out www.TheMagicOfIreland.ca for more information.