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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Love Out Loud

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I am going to try very hard to get these words out without becoming overly emotional and rambling.  I apologize for the serious note of this post, but my heart is telling me to write.  Because of the picture, you already have a basic idea of what I am going to discuss.  I have watched quite a few Holocaust-related movies but am not sure why because it is very hard for me to do so.  I suppose that as a Jew I feel a strange sort of loyalty, a loyalty that urges me to watch and empathize to the best of my ability.  I did not experience a concentration camp nor did my Sephardic ancestors.  However, Jews are brothers and sisters no matter the category one belongs to (Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, or Sephardic); after all, we all descend from the same bloodline.  I cannot speak for other Jews, but I can speak for myself.  When another heart hurts, I hurt, no matter how far back in history that hurt occurred.  I have been emotionally disturbed by Holocaust movies in the past, but this film wrenched my heart to the point of illness.  As soon as the credits started to roll, I ran away from my computer and wept alone in another room.  My head throbbed, and my stomach was in knots.  I do not pretend to have felt pain anywhere near that of the Jews in concentration camps, but I did indeed feel pain.  Pain and anger.  I could not speak, only weep.  One word kept coming to mind over and over and over again: Why.  Why?  Why??  Why??!  Why!!!

– If you have not seen “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, I suggest you stop reading now. –

There is one specific element in this movie that grabbed my attention.  It is subtle but very much significant.  When Bruno is mistakenly taken with a group of Jews to the gas chamber, the Nazi soldiers do not question his presence.  Yes he is disguised, and yes he is surrounded by numerous other Jews, but take all that away.  Cut off Bruno’s hair.  Take away from Shmuel the dirty appearance and malnutrition.  Line them up side by side in matching “striped pajamas.”  They are two young boys, same age and same height.  Shmuel could be German.  Bruno could be Jewish.  Both could be one or the other.  It is unclear whether Bruno was visible to the soldiers, but he looked just like everybody else therefore he received the same treatment and tragic death.  He was one of them, a German, and yet the soldiers could not tell the difference.  What does that tell you about prejudice?  Hatred will show you what you want to see, not what is actually there.

If you think your contribution to the fight against prejudice as one person is too small, think again.  Love goes a long way no matter the number of contributors.  I will end with some lyrics from a song called “Let It Be Love” by Family Force 5.  I encourage you to read the words, click the following link to hear the entire song, and take time to reflect.

“Stronger than every fear
Comfort for all the tears
It’s where the war is won
And it has overcome
Louder than the loudest shout
Deeper than the deepest doubt
We’ll watch the walls fall down…

Let it be a heart wide open
Bigger than the words we’ve spoken
Let it be a heart for the broken
If we’re gonna light, light, light the way to You
Let it be love…
It’s love that lights the way”

“Let It Be Love” by Family Force 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZHl5cNLJE

Please don’t pick and choose who to love.  Love everyone!

– Lauren Michele :)

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