Titanic Dance | Preview
Waterfront Hall, Belfast • 09 – 19 August 2018
Peter Moor Interviews Stage Director, Orla Griffin
Think of the tragic love story played out in James Cameron’s Titanic and the sheer energy and buzz of Michael Flatley’s Riverdance. This combination is one displayed in the theatrical spectacular that is Titanic Dance, coming to Belfast’s Waterfront Hall in August. Peter Moor spoke with Orla Griffin, Company Manager, and Stage Director, to find out more.
Orla has an important role in the day-to-day running of Titanic Dance, managing the thirty strong cast and crew not just in Belfast but more globally, most recently a mammoth tour of China, with further touring soon. Before that, Titanic Dance will return to its ancestral home of Belfast, in the Waterfront Hall, four years after it wowed audiences at the then-named Odyssey Arena premiere.
But how did such an eclectic mix of Irish Dancing, and the globally-known Titanic story come together? Orla puts it down to the so-called “perfect storm of the Titanic’s story, history, and tragedy, along with the phenomenon of Irish dancing.” This comes together in harmony to create a performance with worldwide popularity.
The story of the Titanic works as a key interest of so many audiences, given the class narrative that permeates throughout Titanic Dance. “In the eyes of tragedy, everyone becomes one,” Orla remarks, “by the time of the sinking, class is forgotten about.”
Behind the impressive dance, the plot tells the story of a lady within first class, who falls in love with a third class passenger. This story is very much echoic of James Cameron’s Titanic, itself holding a record-breaking eleven academy awards for its heart-breaking love story of Rose and Jack.
While Orla attributes the film with a somewhat “Hollywoodised” feel, with “glitz and glam,” Titanic Dance tries to show the “raw, emotional story” of the tragedy. Despite this, many audiences, especially those in China, tend to view the show through the lens of the film, looking for the love narrative so keenly portrayed in DiCaprio and Winslet’s performances.
The film’s popularised nature made Titanic Dance unmissable viewing at the China International Folk Arts Festival where the show was beamed to 1.3 billion people worldwide, a feat Orla termed as “crazy.” This broadcast showed off the culture of Irish dancing to almost a fifth of the world’s population, therefore integrating this style of dance into so many other cultures, Orla tells me with pride.
The seemingly universal love of Irish dancing began with “the Eurovision 1994 interval act,” where Riverdance was first performed to an estimated audience of 300 million. This seven-minute spectacular inspired generations. Nations grew to love Irish dancing, not just in Europe, but globally. Summer camps and schools sprung up to teach children Irish dancing, fully internationalising a once localised culture.
This worldwide reach of Irish dancing, alongside interest in the Titanic story, allow Orla to boast of markets not only in Belfast and China, but all across Western Europe, Nordic countries and even Australasia. Titanic Dance is for “all generations,” Orla makes clear: the young, who aspire to dance on stage, but also older people to show the history of the Titanic. Orla points out that this audience is united under a message for the 1500 who lost their lives: “We haven’t forgotten about the tragedy that was.”
With a resounding function of remembrance, the crew is touring China again during October, while new touring dates are being announced in the New Year. Before that, preparations are underway for the show’s return to Belfast. In fact, Orla was keen to point out Titanic Dance’s upcoming auditions on 23 July to bring in new local talent to the show scene, “for lead roles, to troop roles, musicians and singers – the full shebang!”
If you are inspired by this “perfect storm” of live music, song, and dance, along with amazing costumes and set design, then you can see the show from 09 – 19 August at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast. Or to join in with this spectacular, then you can contact Orla herself on firstname.lastname@example.org.