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Heartbeat of Home review at the Piccadilly Theatre, London

Who would have thought that an interval act from the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest would arguably gain the status of showbiz phenomenon?

Twenty five years on though, the Riverdance juggernaut once again thunders into town with a fresh new spectacular, Heartbeat of Home.

Heartbeat of Home
Heartbeat of Home

In a limited run at the Piccadilly Theatre, the new music and dance extravaganza draws heavily and justifiably on its pedigree, as original Riverdance creative team John McColgan (director) Moya Docherty (producer) join forces again to present the next instalment of the spine-tingling dance spectacular.

The show charts how the heartbeat of a Celtic homeland beats strongly through the hopes and dreams of those who are forced to leave their home in search of a better future across the sea.

In a narrative told entirely through music and dance the cast of 37 explode onto the stage with an overture of dance which whets the audience's appetite for what is to come for the next two hours, in a montage of smouldering salsa through the glitzy glam of samba and the sheer power of a hard tapping 30-strong Celtic reel.

The thunderous precision of hard-shoe tapping is never far away throughout the show. With the machine-like geometric formations, it's everything you'd expect from a show with the Riverdance name behind it.

We're taken through the laments of leaving the homeland with haunting and beautiful routines combined with captivating hi-tech animated back projections, but the spine tingling foot stomping soon returns as the tempestuous ocean is portrayed in dramatic style, after which the heat is raised to fever pitch in a smouldering and passionate flamenco.

The six piece on-stage band keep the authentic Celtic sound with traditional instruments and soon drummer and dancers are held together in perfect interaction with the mesmerising rhythms of the bodhran drum.

Sparkling samba with latino beats and swinging hips with more than a nod to undertones of Strictly fill the stage and, as with the whole narrative, the thread of the Celtic beat is cleverly woven in throughout the routines. Dreamdance takes us into winter with a stunningly beautiful routine performed as lightly and silently as the snowfall itself.

Act two opens with a West Side Story-style party on the block. The dazzling colours soon give way to the monchrome 'don't slip jig' as we're transported to the dizzying heights of skyscraper construction workers in a homage to the classic 1920s photographs, with an eight-man dance-off on an iron girder.

Vocalist Lauren Azania gives a spellbinding performance throughout the show, but especially in the magical ballad 'The Night I Danced With You'.

As the show draws to a close having taken us through jazz, Charlston a steamy tango and even hip-hop, the hard tapping, feet blurring troop once again fill the stage in a glittering finale which, in traditional Riverdance style ends with that final stomp in which the whole theatre collectively explode into rapturous cheers and a standing ovation.

This truly is dance that rocks you to the core of your being.

One audience member told me: "It's simply amazing how such a powerful story and be told entirely through dance, without words.' It shows how unifying dance can be."

Heartbeat of Home runs until Sunday, October 13 at the Piccadilly Theatre in London.

Book at kmtickets.tixuk.com/london-theatre/dance/heartbeat-of-home

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