SLIDESHOW: Traditional dancers leave Riverdance high and dry

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The spirit of Irish dance is coming to the Grand Theatre.

Rhythm Of The Dance has been touring the world for the past 15 years, taking in 59 countries – but this is the first time it has toured the UK.

Traditional dance: From left , Chris Anglim, Martin McKay, Arlene McVeigh and Dylan Millar

Traditional dance: From left , Chris Anglim, Martin McKay, Arlene McVeigh and Dylan Millar

The live show celebrates the rich history of Ireland, as well as the art of Irish dance, and features 30 dancers, a traditional full Irish band and the Young Irish Tenors.

The show has had a ‘brilliant response’ so far in the UK, according to musician Chris Anglim, and the cast is enjoying travelling the UK.

Dancer Arelene McVeigh said: “We’ve only done Ireland a couple of times even.

“Maybe it’s because Irish dance is so well known, so there’s a great demand in Europe and America, that people here have been less fascinated to see it.”

When the obvious comparisons are drawn to the blockbuster show Riverdance, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Chris points out the key difference is Rhythm Of The Dance’s more traditional take on the art form.

“The music of Riverdance has very mixed genres, even going into the history of European folk, whereas we keep a very traditional feeling and really bring the Irish side of things,” he said. “We pull from our roots for the show.”

That nod to the past and more pure tradition even extends to the inclusion of sean-nós dance, regarded as the oldest form of Irish dance which preceded the more commonly recognised step dance – something the cast proudly feel is unique among their skills set.

And they’re keen to emphasise the show’s ‘variety’, including the five-piece band and Irish Tenors.

While the UK audiences are giving a great response, it’s a new experience for the cast members who are more used to the reactions in countries as diverse as China and Russia.

“In China it’s crazy,” said Arlene. “They treat us as celebrities, bringing out receipts or anything else they’ve got to get us to sign it.”

Chris added: “They’re shouting and screaming before the show has begun.

“But Russia is probably the best reaction we get, whether big cities or small towns.”

“They have flower stalls outside and people are putting together whatever little money they have to buy flowers to bring for us, they really appreciate it so much,” Arlene said.

Rhythm Of The Dance, September 9 and 10, 7.30pm, Grand Theatre. Tickets cost £24m – under 18s half price.