Velocity: Rising takes Irish dancing a step beyond traditional music

This article is from 2017

Feet First

What do you get if you mix a five-times World Irish Dance Champion, the fastest tap dancer on the planet and a whole lot of passion?

He might be quick on his feet, but the day David Geaney was too slow to catch a lift home turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Taking part in a BBC documentary, five-time world champion Irish dancer Geaney ended up sharing a car home with fellow performer James Devine. It was the start of an artistic partnership that inspired both men to take Irish dance in a new and exciting direction, including their brand new Fringe show, Velocity: Rising.

'We're from a different generation of Irish dancers, but I knew about David from social media,' explains Devine, himself a three-time Irish dance world champion. 'And then after working on the documentary, he missed his lift and I was going in his direction. The creative chat happened and it went from there.

'I'd done a lot of solo work but had always wanted to do a collaboration, but I'll be honest, there are very few Irish dancers I'd be really inspired by and David is definitely one of them, so it was great to have that chance meeting.'

Devine was last seen at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006 with TapEire, an explosive dance show which gave him ample opportunity to show off how he gained the Guinness World Record for most feet taps per second (a remarkable 38, quashing Michael Flatley's previous record of 35).

Now that Devine and 22-year-old Geaney have teamed up, he's ready to take on the Fringe again, this time with a show that journeys back in time before bringing Irish dance culture bang up to date, through live music, movement and visual technology.

'Everyone associates Irish dancing with traditional music,' says Geaney, a recent semi-finalist on Britain's Got Talent, 'but Rising is taking that next step, with electronic beats. So we'll have a fiddle player, guitarist and percussionist, but also a DJ. The music will definitely still have that Irish influence everyone knows so well, but it's going to be slightly different from what people expect.'

With such fleet-footed dancers at the helm, one thing that won't be a surprise is the blisteringly fast choreography, delivered through a combination of solos and duets.

'Both of us are solo dancers,' says Devine, 'so that aspect has to be in the show. But when we come together, there are very few dancers who can dance as fast as we can, so the duets will definitely be one of the highlights.

'But it's not just about the speed. Our motto for Velocity is precision, power, speed – and again, I think there are very few dancers who can execute steps as correctly and clearly as we do at that speed.'

Despite the age difference ('there's nearly 20 years between us!' says Devine), there's no indication this isn't an equal pairing of strength and agility – far from it.

'I have to tie him back,' laughs Geaney. 'When James takes off, he won't stop.'

Velocity: Rising, Assembly George Square Studios, 5–27 Aug (not 14), 6.35pm, £14--£15 (£13--£14). Previews 2–4 Aug, £10.

Velocity: Rising

  • 4 stars

Velocity Velocity: Rising is the next generation in Irish tap. Honoring past traditions but blasting them feet first into the 21st century, Velocity: Rising breaks away from the idea of what an Irish dance show is to one that is expressive, free, fast-paced and edgy, driven by passion and pride! Led by Guinness World…