Choreographer and creator Alan Kenefick’s experiment aims to bridge the genre-gap between, for example, Michael Jackson and traditional Irish dance. It’’s this revolutionary thesis that energises the Opera House production.
When choreography has to carry a philosophical message the weight can become too heavy to bear, and in political terms, Prodijig comes close to sinking. Jettison that lode though and, on the physical evidence, no burden is too cumbersome for the troupe gathered here in an ensemble of miraculous stamina.
The pace is dynamic and daring as apparently unrelated sequences are driven by a sometimes dominant music and sound design (from Moxie, Peter Power and John O'Brien). Relieved by cellist Ilse de Ziah and singer Karen Underwood the onrushing episodes spin the dancers into displays of frantic athleticism and excitement. Some references are inescapable: Les Miserables comes to mind, and a brilliantly staged but unincorporated Jazz Age sequence hints at the possibility that Noel Coward has joined Riverdance.
No artist is without influences and Kenefick acknowledges Jackson’s interpretative footwork in fusillades of tap. Challenging the rigidity of the Irish tradition, the dancers’ arms take on a life entirely separate from other limbs while contemporary dance, so often itself in a state of apology for not being one thing nor the other, is here also neither one thing nor the other.
That could be said for this presentation as a single piece of work – it’s too many things, and this might well be the point Kenefick is ably making. ProdiJig is much more than the sum of its 26 parts. The work-rate is stunning; the skills and talent are brilliantly utilised by director Wayne Jordan; Sinead McKenna’s lighting would illuminate an aerodrome; and Maree Kearns’ set keeps all the red-flag revolutionaries where they should be – on the run.
Runs until August 14th