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'Ultimate West End dance sensation' Heartbeat of Home dances into Wolverhampton Grand Theatre - review with pictures

By Alison Norton | Wolverhampton | Theatre & Comedy | Published:

Following a stunning appearance on the BBC’s One Show on Wednesday evening last, the company of Heartbeat of Home, the latest offering from the producers of the mighty Riverdance, is previewing at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

Heartbeat of Home

The show is set to run from August 29 to 31 before heading to the bright lights of the West End from next week, bringing together 33 world-class dancers and live musicians from Ireland, USA, Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, Argentina and Spain.

Conceived and directed by John McColgan, he is joined by the award-winning Irish composer, Brian Byrne and lyricist Joseph O’Connor providing the authentic, sometimes haunting, sometimes exciting soundtrack to the show, while choreographer, David Bolger has created an outstanding fusion of different styles of dance from around the world, which is no less than stunning.

The very distinctive Irish theme, whilst incorporating hip-hop, Latin, Afro-Cuban and contemporary dance, merged perfectly which made for exceptional entertainment.

It sounds ask if it is a show purely for fans of dance, but not so. The passion, intensity and extreme level of talent was mind-blowing for all.

With a perfectly blended six-piece band, who are just as much a part of the show as the dancers, unique back projections of waving fields, railway lines, all aspects of weather, panoramic city views, and atmospheric lighting throughout, this show was visually striking and highly impressive before a step has even been danced.

Principal Irish dancers, Jason O’Neill and Gianna Petracic burst onto the stage with a powerful presence to lead this incredibly talented young cast, beginning with the opening number which was a fusion of Irish, Flamenco and Afro-Cuban dance.

Heartbeat of Home

The piece had the audience’s hearts racing, with matchless dance technique in all genres and a slick, en pointe performance.

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A celebration of the elements followed, starting with a musical number called Wild Wind with two pairs of contemporary dancers filling the stage with smooth, lyrical moves.

Then sunset came, with a sensual, steamy Flamenco number, featuring the sultry moves of Valerio La Pietra and Rocio Montoya, followed by fast and furious Latin dance with stunning lifts.

Act two saw more dance fusion, this time with Salsa, Irish and hip-hop with a stylish Spanish and Irish combination danced in front of the Grand Hotel.

Argentinian tango followed, plus a superb male contemporary solo to a song aptly entitled, The Night I Danced with You, which had a magical tone, only created by Irish pipes.

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But without doubt, the highlights of the evening were the 'storm' number in act one, in which the dancers somehow created thunder, lighting and driving rain simply through movement.

As well as this, in act two a troupe of male dancers dancing on an iron girder, simulating the New York workmen who built the Rockefeller Plaza building who risked life and limb every day.

They instantly created a witty rapport with the audience before treating them to excitingly wild, yet perfect Irish dance steps executed in a very small space, which entertained, amused astonished in equal measure.

Heartbeat of Home

Their performance would certainly shock big-mouth American presenter Lara Spencer into having the utmost respect for the male dancers in this show.

A show stopping finale, with all the glitz and glamour of musical theatre, but still displaying the incredible synchronicity and unique style of Irish dance brought the audience to its feet for a well-deserved standing ovation.

Without a programme available on the evening, it is hard to name everyone in this incredible cast, but one thing is for sure, you would be hard pushed to find a finer set of dancers.

There is no doubt that Heartbeat of Home will be the ultimate West End dance sensation, but for now, grab a ticket at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre if you can.

Runs until Saturday.

Call 01902 429212 or visit www.grandtheatre.co.uk for tickets.

Alison Norton

By Alison Norton
@AlisonNorton

Theatre critic and unofficial 'am dram queen' for the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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