The Fabulous
Beast comes home

What happens when you fuse the musical talent of Liam Ó Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers) with the artistic diversity of Michael Keegan-Dolan (Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre Company, Newtownforbes)? The answer is a world-class highly acclaimed piece of traditional dance theatre known as ‘Rian’.

What happens when you fuse the musical talent of Liam Ó Maonlaí (Hothouse Flowers) with the artistic diversity of Michael Keegan-Dolan (Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre Company, Newtownforbes)? The answer is a world-class highly acclaimed piece of traditional dance theatre known as ‘Rian’.

On Tuesday June 19 next at 8pm the Bornacoola Community Centre, County Leitrim, will come alive with ‘Rian Unplugged’, a unique opportunity for a small audience to savour the delight that is ‘Rian’ in an intimate setting.

Having travelled the world performing to audiences in excess of 1,000, ‘Rian’ features eight dancers from around the world and five of Ireland’s top musicians – among them, Liam Ó Maonlaí.

Produced by the Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre Company, Newtownforbes, ‘Rian Unplugged’ now returns close to the townland that is home to the company’s artistic director, Michael Keegan-Dolan and his young family.

“It’s very good to perform the work near to where I live. ‘Rian’ looks at the importance of community and family, and celebrating one’s roots,” said Michael, speaking to the Leader.

He added: “I was looking around for a place nearby to do the performance and I ended up at the Bornacoola Community Centre one evening at a meeting. I learned that they are currently building an extension for the youth club – so the idea occurred to us that perhaps we could do this performance as a fundraiser too.”

‘Rian Unplugged’ will be a unique interpretation of the original ‘Rian’ and it will bring the performance back to basics; there will be none of the usual grand stage-lighting at the centre.

“It will be back to the bare bones. It is never going to be seen in this particular way anywhere else in the world. And there will only be room for 80 people or so,” said Michael, a father of Milo (3) and Ellie (1).

It is hoped that Michael’s wife and professional dancer, Rachel Poirier, will join the dance troupe at the Bornacoola Community Centre on Tuesday next.

In advance of the performance, there is growing interest within the local community.

“There is great excitement around here. We can’t imagine that there has been something like this in the area for some time,” said Michael who has lived with his family in Kilmacannon, Newtownforbes, for over seven years. His connection to the area extends even further than that.

“I’ve been coming here on my holidays since I was three-years-old. My great-great grandfather lived in the house my family now live in. His name was Patrick Cannon.”

Putting ‘Rian’s international popularity into perspective, Michael explained: “We just performed in Germany and received standing ovations and encores lasting 15 minutes. We will also travel to New York, Paris, Sydney, Lyon, Hong Kong and Sweden.

“The work is driven primarily by traditional Irish music but there are other influences such as African Blues. The dancers come from all over the world and that adds to the influences.”

He added: “There is a universal feeling to music that has roots – there’s a feeling of being connected. I am excited, very happy and proud to bring ‘Rian Unplugged’ home.”

Admission is free on Tuesday June 19, but donations (minimum €12) are requested towards the Bornacoola Community Centre’s extension. Booking is necessary and can be done by contacting Ann on 085-8186578.