Eireborne takes flight - at last!

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What do you do when you have a special combination of talents but can’t find the show that is the right fit for you? You create your own, of course! That’s what Peta Anderson, who is a champion Irish dancer, a tap dancer AND a master of the “the triple threat’ of music theatre, has done, and turned herself into a producer and choreographer of an internationally successful show as a result.

 The show is Eireborne, which is about to embark on a national tour. Originally scheduled to have its Australian premiere two years ago, but postponed twice because of Covid, Eireborne will finally leap onto the stage at the Palais Theatre on Friday (July 29), after which it will travel to 13 metropolitan and regional venues.

Eireborne boasts an outstanding ensemble of 15 Irish dancers alongside a live six-piece band with two lead vocalists. Among the dancers is 19-year-old, Sydney-based Liam Costello, the three times Irish Dance World Champion.

Described as a “rock show”, the program combines the hit songs of popular Irish bands like the Cranberries, U2 and Snowpatrol with the most virtuosic dancing Anderson could dream up. “I wanted to feature Irish dancers in a way we haven't been seen before,” she says. “Eireborne has allowed me to push the boundaries as the choreographer and revolutionise Irish dance, showing just how versatile and mesmerising Irish dance can be."

Anderson is a prizewinning tap as well as a prizewinning Irish dancer. She was one of a select few to be invited to join the iconic Riverdance, touring around the world with that show between 2011 and 2015.

Riverdance was an "amazing, crazy journey" she laughs, but when that phenomenon eventually faded, she was in her late 20s and back in Sydney looking to restart her career. “I thought I’d love to bring my other styles to Irish dance and make it a bit more commercial and give it that edge, and appeal to young kids. So I thought let’s create something that’s a rock-n-roll Irish show, and six years later here we are.”

To bring her dream to life, Anderson joined up with Nigel Turner Carroll, of Tap Pack fame, as director, and fellow Riverdance performer and 9 x Australian Open Irish Dance Champion Maryanne Fogarty-Morello. The show premiered in 2016 in Sydney and since then has toured through parts of Australia as well as Zurich and Hamburg. 

Irish and tap share many characteristics. With Eireborne, Anderson has explored the potential of combining both. In some ways the styles are "like chalk and cheese” - both are percussive but the shoes and technique are different.

“Technically even the way your ankle is used is completely different. Tap is parallel and the ankle is isolated, you don’t use that joint, and your knees are overcrossed in a turn out position, a bit like 5th position in ballet. And you are using your whole leg and your ankle is flicking around."

Tap shoes are heavier, creating different sounds to Irish dancing shoes, which have bigger heels and are tight fitting and flexible and allow the dancer to go “en pointe”. “It’s easier to do tap technique in the Irish shoes, but harder to do Irish technique in the tap shoes.”

Anderson first took up Irish dancing at the age of 10 when it was introduced to her dance school. She simultaneously partipated in the Irish Dancing competition circuit while studying at the McDonald College in Sydney, before moving to Melbourne to undertake a diploma of Performing Arts at Dance World Studios. She moved to the US to take up a principal role in the show Noctu, which then went on to perform in New York on Broadway. From there she joined Riverdance and her career took flight.

 With Eireborne Anderson hopes to inspire a new generation to take up Irish dance. “For me its awesome getting tap and Irish dance out there in these shows so little kids want to start these styles again,” she says.

For tour dates and details, go here.

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