Brain Freeze

I'm quite aware of the fact that I haven't blogged in 2 weeks. It's not that I haven't wanted to. I did try. There are some ideas in my head and half a blog post sitting forlorn in my drafts, and no matter how sadly it looks at me it will never see the light of day.

Who wants to hear me waxing lyrical about the real story behind this photo:

The beautiful light filtering through the trees as I walk with Teen Boy after his golf lesson, while dad plays his golf. The bittersweet light of freedom glowing straight ahead, whispering thoughts of boy golf outings, in the not to distant future, while Jazzy lingers. In a pool, or a jacuzzi. Or, wherever. Thoughts of  how we feed, wash and cuddle them. Wipe dirty bums and snotty noses and kiss our fair share of sore knees better. Then suddenly they're off playing golf or going on scout holidays, and no longer need (too much) mothering.



Couldn't do it. Okay, I probably just did but be grateful, it's very condensed!

I could tell you that I've been busy- and I have been really busy - or that I've been tired. And that's true too. But the fact is I think I have a brain freeze. I fear that all my words are gone and that I will never have anything to bore you with write about again.

Maybe that's what happens when you've written 400 posts in 5 years of blogging?

I even tried reading your wonderful blogs to help me find my missing mojo but nope, it hadn't wandered over there either.

It did make me sit down and write something though.

And maybe that's what needs doing to find my missing words? Just set aside time every couple of days and see what words come forth? Or when you have an idea in your head don't put off putting it into words....

Or perhaps I need to plan a few days away. Somewhere pretty where I can gaze over a beautiful harbour or a glistening sea and let the waves of inspiration wash over me.

And let it all flow out.

But then I fear my brain freeze would become a brain fart.

And that would never do!




Heartbeat of Home - A Dream Show

I felt like I was watching a piece of theatre history unfolding on the stage in front of me. Sitting there in the auditorium of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre at Wednesday night's Gala Opening of the World Premiere of 'Heartbeat of Home- a Dream Voyage'.

I was on the edge of my seat with head bopping, feet tapping and jaw dropping from the very moment the screen lifted. The show started with a swift heartbeat of a hard shoe rally, a click of the heels and ended with a sudden, final dramatic flourish; to a full standing ovation.

And everything in between was just phenomenal.

In my opinion.

There were many in attendance who agreed with me and others who didn't.

Where to begin to describe the technical brilliance of Wednesday night's performance?

I'll start with the music which was thrilling, moving and expertly interpreted by the choreographers. I love when the band are on stage and incorporated within a show, as was the case here with the band on two movable podiums on stage right and left. Yeah, the band were separated! And it worked too.  I was perplexed as to who was conducting? That job was surreptitiously done - no baton-waving or dramatic head nodding - by the Kit Drummer. The band were very much an integral part of this show and moments were allowed to bring the musicians to the audience, to truly display their wonderful talents. Watch out for the funky-haired, bare-footed, rock-chick bass player stage left!

The lead vocalist was Lucia Evans who has an amazing voice and gave a wonderful performance, singing some stunning songs and displaying a natural rapport with musicians and dancers alike.

One area in which a Daily Mail reviewer felt was lacking was the narrative. I could take her point on that. It wasn't always strong but, that said, I could follow it. This show is imaginative and interpretive with the story being told via the music, the set and the spectacular dancing. It's a story of emigration, arrival and immersion in a new community - in an 'unnamed country'. The costumes alone, which were simply wonderful, meant the story could refer to the original tale of Irish emigration or the more recent one. It could even be a tale of any country's emigrants. There is a contemporary feel to this show that will work as it travels the world. In my opinion.

The seemingly simple set design was used to stunning effect, with scenes being projected onto three curved backdrops. At times it was just a backdrop scene and at others it incorporated the sometimes moving set of stairs and became an integral part of a production number.

One particularly memorable moment was the stunning skyscape scene, which immediately brought New York to mind (and an audible group gasp from the audience) as it led into a fabulous rooftop dance sequence. A dance sequence which demonstrates the crossover between, Flamenco, Tap and Irish Hardshoe dancing. Loved it!

The 'Taking Flight' piece, for which the band took centre stage, is also worth a mention. Images portraying travelling vast lands, with the iconic sea-eagle sometimes in sight, floated across the backdrops as the band played on. This 'floating' seemed to gain momentum as the musicians played, and eventually the band themselves were almost totally encompassed by the travelling scene. It was a stunning, cinematic moment that was almost as show-stopping as some of the spectacular dance scenes. I loved it. The Daily Mail reviewer particularly disliked it!

And finally I come to the dancing. Oh wow, the spectacular dancing!

This show is a high octane fusion of powerful Irish dancing mixed with Flamenco, Afro-Cuban, Tango and street-dance preformed with such precision and to spectacular effect; which leaves your heart beating rapidly! The opening scene alone had me restraining myself from springing up into a solo standing ovation.

                     Most of the opening scene as performed on the Late Late Show recently.

Choreographers David Bolger and John Carey deserve special mention. There were some beautiful sequences with some funky, flexed footed lifts that I loved and the staging and seamless transitions were wonderful. Most noticeable when watching the Irish dancers hardshoe rallying and trebling with their feet, while their top half gave a Salsa twist or a Tango flick before they left the stage (or blended in) to the relevant dance tradition. The Flamenco, Salsa, Tango sequences etc., were fabulous but every time the Irish dancers appeared it was just dramatic. John's choreography was perfect. The 'Tempest' scene deserves special mention where the dancers themselves create the music through a fabulous hardshoe routine, performed to yet another amazing scenic backdrop, accompanied by stormy sounds.

I could go on and on in a positive vein but I won't.

Instead I'll let the video above speak for itself, even though it only gives half the effect of seeing it live on stage, and give you a review video that gives a flavour of some of the other tremendous dance scenes:

In my honest opinion 'Heartbeat of Home' rivals 'Riverdance.'

This show will soon be traveling to China, Toronto Canada and Chicago USA.

Wherever in the world you are, if this show comes to your corner of it And make up your own mind.

I would definitely go see it again. And again.

In a heartbeat.


Irish Youth for Eurovision 2014 - As Gaeilge?

I've been a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest for a very long time and religiously watch it most years.

I believe that Ireland, although having won it seven times, will never, ever win it again; as I discussed in my Jedward Mania blog post two years ago.

I have become particularly disillusioned with this annual song contest over the past few years, especially with regard to the bloc voting method used. The inclusion of national panels of judges into text-voting has done nothing to improve things, nor will it ever. The whiff of this year's bribery scandal and the corrective measure of naming of the judges on panels neither surprises me on one hand, nor re-assures me on the other.

In fact I think this competition is doomed, for certain European countries, as it continues down it's farcical, musical route.

This year, for the first time ever, I stated that not only would I never watch it again but that Ireland should never enter it again..... ever. And I meant it too.

But then the last week or two  came along and brought with it some performances and comments that got me thinking.

First up was Coláiste Lurgan/Seo Linn  with their very  infectious Irish version of Aviici's 'Wake me Up' on the Late Late Show.  I challenge you to watch this and not be caught up in it ....

This appearance on the Late Late Show was presumably as a result of their YouTube video which has received over 2 million hits.

Notice how smoothly  it was adapted for a stage/TV performance - relatively speaking?

Now here's an earlier YouTube video they made of  'When I'm Gone', otherwise known as 'The Cup Song' - or 'Amhrán na gCupán as Gaeilge  - from the movie Pitch Perfect ....

This is amazing too.

They have very cleverly brought Irish culture and language to mainstream, popular music, injected it with a huge dollop of energetic youth and made it so very cool. I would imagine that they've also made enrolling in The Gaeltacht , as Irish college is colloquially known as, very appealing too!

And it also seems to be catching on with regular secondary schools getting in on the act! Watch how the Santa Sabina Girls adapt 'Amhrán na gCupán'/'Up The Dubs'  for last weekends Dublin vs Mayo national final ....

Very effective video, given that Dublin won!! Up The Dubs indeed!  Baile Cliath Abú ....

I'm loving this trend.

Imagine if one of our very many songwriters were to work with someone like Seo Linn & co and were to write an original, catchy song in the same vein as the above songs, as gaeilge of course.

Then imagine adding elements of the Late Late Show performance above (musical instruments, Irish dancing and an energetic but choreographed chorus) and transporting it all to Eurovision 2014.

Costly perhaps but I'm sure substitutions could be made and no need to over-costume.

Let the raw talent and natural energy of the young performers shine through.

I can see it, really, I can.

We will never win but what better stage to showcase the talented, energetic youth of Ireland and our Irish culture to the rest of Europe and beyond than the Eurovision?

Making being and speaking Irish cool, on the world stage.

Remember, Riverdance was only an interval act - and that will be 20 years ago exactly next year ;-)

'Dhá cheann déag de phointe' anyone?