Rapid leg movements, body and arms kept largely stationary. These are the most characteristic features of Riverdance, a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish stepdancing.
Michal Piotrowski has a chance to be the lone Pole in the show. He is 19 years old and comes from Tychy (Silesia). He started to dance four years ago, after seeing Riverdance, the world-famous vocal-dancing show from Ireland, on television. Since then he has dreamed of performing in that show.
On September 15 during a picnic at Muchowiec Airport in Katowice, Piotrowski showed what he could do. When he started to dance to the music of Carrantuchill, a group playing Celtic music, he attracted a crowd.
Riverdance was first performed during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. The first performance featured Irish dancing champion Jean Butler, Michael Flatley and the Celtic choral group Anuna with a score written by Bill Whelan. Flatley choreographed for himself and the troupe, and Jean Butler choreographed her solo. They soon became very popular. In November 1994, tickets were sold in Dublin for the first full-length show of Riverdance. It opened at the Point Theater in February 1995, ran for five weeks and was a sell-out.
Now, although in a diminished format, Riverdance continues to be performed throughout the world. Current productions are geared towards smaller theaters, whereas past productions were performed in large theaters and arenas.
Irish performance dancing is traditionally referred to as stepdance. Most competitive stepdancers are soloists, but many stepdancers also perform in groups. When performed as a solo, the stepdance is generally characterized by a controlled (but not rigid) upper body, straight arms and the quick and precise movements of the feet.
Michal Piotrowski attends stepdancing competitions and has experienced success. He has won many trophies, even when he competed with Irish dancers. He was the first Pole to win the title of European champion last year. At the World Championships in Glasgow this year, he didn’t win a medal but he was not discouraged.
This year he sent Riverdance a demo CD with a short presentation of his dance. He was invited to audition in August. After three weeks he received a letter from Ireland praising his talent. By the end of September Piotrowski will have received a decision on whether there is a part for him in the next tour of Canada and the U.S., the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Acceptance would make him the first European in Riverdance from outside of the British Isles.
There is still a chance to see him in Poland. In the last weekend of September he will take part in the International Dance Festival in Bielsko-Biala. “I will lead an Irish dance exercise together with Celtic Senses, the group I launched with Dorota Czajkowska, a dancer from Warsaw,” Piotrowski told Gazeta Wyborcza.