It’s difficult to imagine how many times The Dropkick Murphys’ “Shipping Up to Boston” has been played in Robsham Theater. It’s easy to think the number is somewhere upward of 100, but at the same time, it could very well only have been used a couple dozen times. Regardless of how many times it’s been used in a Robsham show, last Thursday it was used in a rather different setting than one might expect to find it—a Boston College Irish Dance performance.
When one thinks of BC Irish Dance, high-octane energy might not always come to mind. Words like “grace” and “majesty” usually fit the group rather well, but last Thursday’s “Electrify” showed that BC Irish Dance isn’t afraid to step out of the bubble it’s usually placed in. Performing 20 dances in two hours, BC Irish Dance sent an overwhelming surge of energy through Robsham.
The night aptly started off with Borns’ “Electric Love,” a stunning number that exhibited BCID’s intent to step away from old Irish ballads, at least for a little bit. Many of the songs throughout the night had this same effect, which kept the two-hour performance versatile and engaging. More traditional, slower Irish songs were peppered throughout the setlist, but generally BCID chose to stick with a more contemporary soundtrack for “Electrify.”
Three numbers act as quintessential moments of “Electrify.” “A Capella” had about half of the dancers performing without background music, with only the sound of their shoes providing a sweet, echoing melody. This number actually started off with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck,” but just when the verse was about to drop, the sound was cut and the dancers took it from there.
Right before the intermission, BCID took a few minutes to highlight all of its individual dancers. Lining the edges of the stage, each dancer took to center stage for about 10 seconds to show off their distinct talents. While many of these separate dances meld together in the mind of a casual viewer, it was nice to see BCID put a spotlight on each of its members. In “Shipping Up to Boston,” the dancers each flaunted a different sports team’s jersey or shirt on. “Shipping Up to Boston” was exemplary of the energy that the dancers imbued “Electrify” with and brought out of the audience. People were clapping to and chanting the Dropkick Murphys’ hit, cheering wildly for BCID. The vitality of the crowd and the dancers was at its peak with this number.
A few guest appearances from Dance Ensemble, Masti, and Sexual Chocolate kept the two-hour set diverse, while also showing how unique a dance-style Irish dance is. Compared to these other groups, BCID members are extremely light on their feet. They move across the stage with stunning grace and incomprehensible speed. This isn’t to say that Irish dance is inherently better than the other styles that were displayed, but it’s an interesting sight to see Sexual Chocolate and BCID put together for a dance number. The two styles are completely different, yet complementary to each other in many ways.
The stage lighting, effects, and props also made for some interesting aspects of the performance. The opening number had the BCID members gloving with LED fingertip gloves, while in many other numbers, the lights would be manipulated so that the audience could only see the dancers’ silhouettes. In the senior class dance, seniors were given individual time on stage, as they danced in front of photos of them performing Irish dance throughout their lives. If the dancers’ energy wasn’t enough to justify the title “Electrify,” the effects of the program were sure to earn it.
It’s not always easy to put Irish dance into words. To someone who doesn’t practice it, many of the dancers’ moves can easily be lumped together. Especially with more traditional setlists, it’s easy to get lost in BCID’s sweeping circles, kicks, and jumps. “Electrify,” on the other hand, lived up to its billing, exhibiting the range of songs that BCID is willing to match its craft with. While Irish dance purists might not be thrilled with BCID’s spectrum of songs chosen for “Electrify,” the diverse setlist kept the show engaging and absorbing to casual viewers and Irish dance fans alike.
Featured Image by Amelie Trieu / Heights Editor