“Whiskey you are the devil” Tour
The enthusiasm for Irish step dancing is firmly embedded in the name of the show. Dancing, singing and playing music is part of the Irish DNA and the Danceperados are no exception. They are mad to dance.
But the Irish are also renowned across the world for other skills. Without doubt the creation of Irish whiskey is at the top of the list. As it is with Irish music and dance, the knowledge and expertise is handed down from generation to generation. A great whiskey evolves over decades and grows in character. Great artists evolve in the same manner.
Why not blend those two Irish traditions? Don’t think for a minute that this show glorifies alcohol and the Irish drinking culture. That would be a simplistic and cliché-d view. The Irish drank quite often to blunt their grief caused by oppression, hunger and hopelessness. The colonial establishment recognized that a population consumed by alcoholism is easy to govern. The whiskey industry generated as much employment as it generated problems.
Since the medieval ages whiskey was entwined with the political, social and economic fabric of the Emerald Isle. British colonialism and unjust taxation pushed Irish distillers into illicit whiskey production. The Napoleonic wars were due to be financed by the whiskey tax. The struggle involving whiskey mirrored the struggle for Irish independence and many folk songs echo this. As the long awaited independence was achieved in 1920, the British revenge was draconian taxes on all Irish exports into the Commonwealth. Then came prohibition in the USA, the temperance movement and poor governance in Ireland. The combined result was that in the middle of the last century Irish whiskey production declined dramatically. At the same time Irish music, song and dance were almost consigned to the past. However nowadays there is a great revival of all these traditions.
The Danceperados take the audience on a tour through illegal pubs, well known as ‘shebeens’, homes to excessive drinking, wild music and dancing. There is an ongoing battle with police attempting to close down the ‘shebeens’ and the illegal distilleries that supply them. Then the scene moves over the Atlantic to the USA. The Irish bring with them the whiskey which becomes a very popular drink. The distillers enjoy a nice boom which however is seriously impacted by the prohibition. The Irish gangsters smuggle the “liquid gold”. Some pay the price with their life and some make a fortune. Bizarre Irish legislation and customs like the ‘holy hour’ and many more feature throughout the show and add to the amusement of the audience.
A multivision with Irish landscapes and images from the distilling world are well blended with the music, song and dance. The audience is captivated by the story line and a journey through Irish history.
With two debut shows, which toured tirelessly from 2014 to 2018, the Danceperados of Ireland cast demonstrated that that the concept of creative blending of Irish history with the Irish arts is a winning formula. Audiences departed with the same feeling of having seen an epic film and with a piece of Ireland in their hearts.
When it comes to measuring the quality of a step dance show, many focus on the dancers only. The Danceperados match it with the quality of their singers and musicians. They all enjoy highly successful solo careers, have recorded many award winning albums and are inspirational for the up and coming generation of Irish musicians.
The shows choreographer is Michael Donnellan – a two time World champion. He was lead dancer with Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. He is regarded as one of the top ten Irish step dancers of his time. He embraced the challenge of not only creating impressive dance items but to adapt them to the storyline written by the artistic director Petr Pandula.
The trademark of the collective is the absence of playback which is wide spread in the other dance shows. When it is encrypted in your name that you are mad to dance, you have to do it live! Playing safe and falling back on playback is against the ethos of the Danceperados. Playback kills spontaneity and improvisation, which are important features of Irish traditional music and dance. The media reviewing the Danceperados of Ireland reflect positively on the philosophy “keep it simple but live”. Show effects, expensive light show and a massive line of dancers take away the focus from what it is all about. It is about music and dance and a meaningful storyline. Once a show is performed live, the fire and passion embedded in the DNA of the dancers and musicians spread like wild fire. Twelve dancers stepping it out live match a cast twice their size.
The Danceperados are in the fore front of a new movement striving to free the Irish dancing from the grip of the big production companies. It is not about playing safe and finding the lowest common denominator by going for a Las Vegas type of show. The Danceperados are going back to the roots and for an authentic and free spirited Irish feel.