Irish dancing is known by its row of stiff upper bodies and crazy strong legs moving in quick union.

But Andrew Vickers, lead male dancer of The Magic of Ireland, is a student of the dance and he sees much more: “It is the girls and their light dancing; it is almost like a ballet, very graceful and very flowing.

“For the guys it is powerful and strong and manly and in your face.”

The telephone goes quiet for a moment and his partners, sitting close by as they all travel on the road to Vancouver, can be heard throwing comments his way.

“For the girls sometimes as well,” he concedes with a hearty laugh.

Vickers, being the only dancer in the company who was born in Ireland and is its choreographer, says Irish dance is more spontaneous than you would think.

“I like to express myself more,” he says. “My solos, many of them, are improvised. So, every night is different.”

Yes, he admits this makes it more difficult than just memorizing the steps and moves, but, “It keeps everything fresh for the audience … and for me.

“We travel back to towns and it is something new for them.

“It keeps me on my toes,” he says, acknowledging the pun, but not apologizing for it. “That’s one of our stricter rules.”

Performing two shows at the Yukon Arts Centre Saturday, Oct. 18, a matinée at 3 p.m. and an evening show at 7:30 p.m., there will be up to 12 champion Irish dancers – most of Irish descent and, according to Vickers, “making dance easier for them with the magic of Ireland running through their veins” — and five multi-instrumentalists.

Besides singing, the instrumentalists will be playing the accordion, fiddle, guitar, Bahrain, pipes, whistles and flutes.

Over two hours of performance, the dancers will have 16 costume changes.

Although such groups as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance have popularized Irish dance, Vickers wants audiences to know they can clap their hands, stamp their feet and they can even dance.

“Little kids will,” he says. “It is a great feeling.”

Tickets for the Oct. 18 shows are available at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office and Arts Underground.


PHOTO: Loring Palleske