Riverdance Turns 25

I couldn’t let today pass without acknowledging the 25th anniversary of a show that changed my life: Riverdance. The stage show began as a 7-minute act performed during an intermission at the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30, 1994. The performance was a smash hit with the audience, causing a chain reaction that breathed new life into Irish dancing around the world. The great minds behind this phenomenon are composer Bill Whelan, director John McColgan, featured dancers Jean Butler and Michael Flatley who also contributed choreography, producer Moya Doherty, and, of course, the rest of the hardworking crew & talented company of dancers.

Four years after Riverdance made its grand debut, I received a VHS from a family friend, a tape of the show during its 1995 debut run in Dublin. Four-year-old me had no idea my life was about to change. I can’t even tell you how many times that tape played while I leaped & twirled across the living room floor. It wasn’t long before I was taking my first tap class. Did I become an Irish dancer? No. Did I bring every ounce of passion I possessed as a proud Irish girl into ballet, jazz, modern, & tap classes for 12 1/2 years? YES I DID!!! 🔥

It’s hard to explain how much this show means to me, but believe me when I say it holds a very VERY special place in my heart. It was not only my introduction to the dance culture in both Ireland & Spain but also my introduction to dance. I lost my passion & did not pursue a career as a dancer, but I never lost my love for all things dance. To this day, I drag my dad to the theater if Riverdance visits our neck of the woods (he knows he loves it!). I’ve seen it five times, & I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

To the Riverdance companies & crews: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you have done. Happy Anniversary! I am looking forward to 25 more years of this special show!

Do yourself a favor & watch the moment when it all began:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAtkcHpSHCw

P.S. Shout out to María Pagés, the original flamenco dancer in Riverdance & my Spanish queen since the age of 4. 🇪🇸

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk6LYFwP8lE

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Dance Until The Music Stops

This is a difficult subject for me to discuss, but this blog is like my diary so I need to be honest.  I recently took on the project of turning my dance recital DVDs into digital files so I could put all of my routines into one video.  Doing so brought up a lot of good memories but also an equal amount of bad memories.  I am my own worst critique.  It is a rare occasion for me to watch myself dance and think that I did a good job.  Watching old routines makes me realize how hard a time I had as a dancer.  Was I a good dancer?  Yes.  Was I a great dancer?  No.  What made the difference?  Fear.  The biggest problem I see when I dance is my tentativeness.  I was never able to to dance without flooding my mind with doubts and fears:  “Do I look fat in this costume?”  “No one will watch me if I look fat!”  “Suck in your stomach!”  “Do I remember all the steps?”  “What if I forget the routine?”  “I’m going to forget something!”  “That was a terrible performance!”  “I never want to dance again!”  That’s the basic idea of my dancer’s brain.  Never stopping, never quiet.  Unfortunately, I fall into the category of dancers who’ve fallen prey to distorted body image and eating disorders.  I went to extreme lengths to lose weight.  I thought that if I looked more like a ballerina, I would improve at dancing.  At the time I thought my body was an eyesore, but now I realize I was indeed skinny.  I looked the part, but it wasn’t by healthy measures.  I loved to dance, but I could never overcome the obstacle of fear.  When I first watched “Riverdance” on VHS and saw Michael Flatley and Jean Butler dance, I had no reservations.  I just wanted to dance!  Somewhere along the way, I allowed fear to beat me down and destroy my passion.

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”  – Merce Cunningham

• On a happier note, I will forever be grateful for my dance mates.  No one understands the bond between dancers until you have navigated the ups and downs of dance with the same group for years.

I want to encourage boys, girls, men & women dealing with these or similar struggles.  Please don’t let fear run your life!  Take one step at a time and give your all to whatever you are doing.  Failure wont harm you so don’t be afraid to try.  If it doesn’t work out, don’t blame yourself.  When dance turned out to be a stepping stone in my life, I blamed myself for being fat and lacking talent.  The truth is God had always intended for me to turn my attention to something else.  Each and every one of us is dealing with obstacles.  You are not alone!

• It is time to start dancing with abandon & have some fun! :D

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcWPiHjIExA

• I leave you with wise words from a special group of vegetables. ;)

Source: https://twitter.com/veggietales/status/421387397167722496

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Congratulations Bindi!

I don’t usually do this, but I felt the need to write a post congratulating Bindi Irwin on her “Dancing With the Stars” victory.  Over the course of the season, I saw nasty comments on social media saying “Bindi is a fake person” and “She gets special treatment because her partner is Derek Hough.”  I could rant and fight on her behalf, but I don’t think that would do any good.  This is all I will say: There was no way of knowing she would be so amazing because she has never had formal training, and from a dancer’s perspective, Bindi had natural ability from the very first episode.  Despite what people may say from their television, computer, or cellphone, people on the DWTS set interacted with Bindi for three months, and no one has one bad thing to say about her; that speaks volumes about her as a person, more than online comments ever could.  I grew up watching Steve Irwin on TV.  He gave me so much joy as a child, and I am so glad to see Bindi carrying on his legacy with grace.

If you didn’t watch DWTS this season, here are links to videos of Derek and Bindi’s dances:

Week 1 | Jive | “Crocodile Rock”

Week 2 | Tango | “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Week 2 | Waltz | “Only a Man”

Week 3 | Quickstep | “Movin’ on Up”

Week 4 | Contemporary | “Every Breath You Take”

Week 5 | Cha-Cha-Cha |  “Hold My Hand”

Week 6 | Rumba | “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”

Week 7 | Argentine Tango | “Cry Little Sister”

Week 7 | Team Freestyle | “Ghostbusters”

Week 8 | Foxtrot | “Grace Kelly”

Week 8 | Jive Dance-Off | “Travelin’ Band”

Week 9 | Viennese Waltz | “Roses And Violets”

Week 9 | Team-Up Dance/Charleston | “All That Jazz” & “Hot Honey Rag”

Week 10 | Salsa | “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”

Week 10 | Samba Dance-Off | “Lean On”

Week 10 | Jazz Trio | “Resolve”

Week 11 | Quickstep | “Dr. Bones”

Week 11 | Freestyle | “Footprints in the Sand”

Week 11 | Argentine Tango & Cha-Cha-Cha Fusion | “All The Way”

Bindi Irwins Wins “Dancing With the Stars”

* * *     Congratulations Bindi & Derek!  :)     * * *

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Masha & the Nutcracker

moscow-ballets-great-russian-nutcracker

I cannot seem to get over the theme of memories so I am once again focusing on Christmas memories but through the eyes of a child.  Christmas is so special to me as an adult, and I truly believe that has to do with Christmas being made so special throughout my childhood.  Here is my December 11th favorite:

What is your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?  I started ballet at the age of 6 and continued on until I was 17.  When I moved to Texas at the age of 8, I joined a dance school that was involved in the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker every year.  I was an angel my first year and a Spanish divertissement my last year, my favorite part.  Dancing in a professional ballet with ballerinas from Russia, the capital of ballet, was an incredible experience that I was fortunate to have 8 years in a row.  I did not go on to dance professionally, but I will always have a special place in my heart for dance, especially my time dancing with the Moscow Ballet.

What is your favorite Christmas memory from childhood?

Stay merry readers!

– Lauren Michele  :)

“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads…”                                     – “The Night Before Christmas”