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March 22, 2019, 03:41:32 PM

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Author Topic: Máiréad at the Scariff School of Irish Dance - Draper, Utah - December 14, 2018  (Read 223 times)
MrPeabody
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« on: December 20, 2018, 03:44:20 PM »

The Scariff School of Irish Dance was founded by Stephen Scariff who was one of the lead dancers in Lord of the Dance and co-producer of the Irish Dance Revolution. Prior to opening the Academy in Utah he operated schools in several European countries. Students range in age from small children to young adults. Each December the Academy holds a Christmas recital to showcase their students. Both last year and this year Máiréad was the featured instrumentalist for the show. While most of the dancing was done to prerecorded music, Máiréad provided accompaniment (and encouragement) for about a third of the show. In addition, she had a few solos, playing songs from both her albums and Celtic Woman. The theme was, of course, Christmas but there were several dance routines that were accompanied by Irish traditional music and other non-Christmas songs.

Before the show I met new fan David Grayson who I had seen but not met in Ireland at the Ancient Land recording. We chatted at length in the lobby while waiting for the doors to open and it turns out that we are both computer programmers. The show was general admission and while I thought I had arrived early enough to insure getting a front row seat, by the time I picked up my Will Call ticket there were about 30 or 40 people ahead of me in line. However, when the doors finally opened we managed to get two lovely front row seats, just right of center. Even though there were a few other people who were there to see Máiréad, most of the audience consisted of parents of the performers and front row was not a priority for them. That was fine with us!

The show began with an empty stage, minimally decorated with a few Christmas trees across the back. As the lights dimmed, “Hallowed Fire” from Hibernia began playing but Máiréad was nowhere to be seen. Or was she? Shortly she appeared walking down the center aisle of the auditorium. She turned to face the audience as she continued to play and then walked to the opposite side of the stage from us, still at the audience level. Then she came to our side and paused briefly directly in front of me and played for a bit while giving me a big smile. After she finished, she walked up the steps to the stage. She was wearing the same pure white gown that she had worn at Carnegie Hall but without the silvery overlay. Next she played “Bells of Tipperary” while several of the Academy’s regional champion dancers joined her on stage. That was followed by several groups dancing to prerecorded music and a beautiful vocal performance of “The Man with the Bag” by Keri Hughes. During the remainder of the first act dancers of all ages performed to various songs, some with Máiréad and some without, including a very impressive Lord of the Dance number.

The second act featured more students, including a delightful group of wee ones dressed as leprechauns. Máiréad provided accompaniment on “Siege of Carrick” and “The First Sheaf” having added the silvery train to her gown. There were two dance routines that were done to Lindsey Stirling songs, including “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.” One surprise non-Christmas Máiréad song was “Skyrim,” one of my favorites of hers on the Destiny tour. That one featured her patented hair tosses and a few spins. Keri Hughes returned to the stage and serenaded us with a beautiful version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The show finished with a Máiréad solo of “Carol of the Bells” and the big finale, performed to the “Dawn” from Hibernia.

After everyone took their bows to a full house standing ovation they announced that there would be a meet & greet with Máiréad on stage in front of the Christmas trees. David and I stayed in our seats for a while watching the interactions between Máiréad and the students. Once the line dwindled we brought up the rear and had a lovely long chat with her. It was David’s first time seeing her live and meeting her.

It was a wonderful evening and well worth the travel that it took to get there. Every moment that I get to spend with her is special, whether watching from the audience or having a conversation. When she introduced me to Stephen Scariff, she, as always, proudly said that I was administrator of her forum. She does that because, even though it is my face she sees most often, she knows that I am also representing a much larger group of fans who have supported her over the years. That support, especially now that she has left the security of Celtic Woman, means the world to her and she always thanks me several times for that continuing support.
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Mike

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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2019, 10:44:49 AM »

Excellent review as always, Mike. Looking forward to seeing you in Ormond Beach!
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We sing before we learn to talk. We dance before we learn to walk. Music is ingrained into our very souls from birth.
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2019, 04:40:12 PM »

Thanks so much, Mike. Reviews here are rare treats now and yours are always appreciated. Very glad you were there not only as face of the forum, but to guide a new fan in meeting our favorite fiddler. Sounds like the Christmas pixie dust was flying throughout. 
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An fidléir's mínealaíne i sprite iomlán sin
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