Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre and the musician Liam Ó Maonlaí have come together in Rian to create a fusion of contemporary dance and traditional Irish music. The production is framed as a staged session of sorts, with the ensemble taking turns to perform solos before uniting in group numbers, where the musicians dance and the dancers take up instruments to play. It is the sort of scene you would be lucky to come across in an Irish pub these days, and Doey Lüthi’s 1950s house-dress costumes deliberately evoke a more rustic past.
Sara Keating, The Irish Times ★★★★
Michael Keegan-Dolan's Fabulous Beast dance company is best known for its sense of drama. His versions of Giselle and Irish mythology turned them into lurid contemporary stories, confrontations between huge personalities. Rian, his new collaboration with the musician Liam Ó Maonlaí, has no plot. Musicians and dancers get together, with a joyful sense of community.
Ó Maonlaí is best known as a founding member of the band Hothouse Flowers. Rian, which means "trace" or "mark" in Irish, is named after his 2005 solo album. The production is traditional Irish with a multicultural cast.
Zoë Anderson, The Independent Full Text
Rian opens with the musicians and dancers seated along the back of the stage, bathed in an eerie green light. Ó Maonlaí rises and walks the front of the stage, singing as Gaeilge. He plays a second tune on a harp, and then the other performers row in. Before long, multi-ethnic dancers are swirling about in their bare feet. Their movements are primal, pagan, and wildly energetic, and far from the stilted image of Irish dancing. The show unearths synergies between Irish trad and the blues of the southern states of America. What stands out is the sheer exuberance of folk music: at several points, the audience breaks out in laughter
Marc O'Sullivan, Irish Examiner ★★★★★
The Cork Midsummer Festival opened last night on a real high with an exquisite dance and music hybrid show incorporating Irish traditional music and modern contemporary dance.
Brian Hayes Curtin, Cork Independent Full Text
What I felt most overwhelmingly from this combination of ceol and choreography was the performative rush that grips you when you're taken by the dance and their success at transposing this onto the audience was apparent by the array of unique percussive harmonies reflected back at them from the tapped feet in the stalls.
EI Team, Entertainment.ie ★★★★★
Wallets have been emptied by the proliferation of outstanding dance evenings in the past month - Akram Khan’s Desh, Lucinda Childs, the Merce Cunningham farewell - but increase your overdraft, for here is a heart-lifting and ingeniously ingenuous Irish dance night from Michael Keegan-Dolan and Liam Ó Maonlaí that could beat all for pure delight. Rian brought Sadler’s Wells to its feet last night in full-throated roaring and you have only tonight to catch it this time (though I'd bet my dog that it’ll be back very soon, given that kind of reception).
Ismene Brown, theartsdesk.com Full Text
On Thursday evening, moments before the curtain rose on the opening of “Rian,” a work by the Irish company Fabulous Beast Dance Theater, Michael Keegan-Dolan stepped onstage at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater to tell a story. He is the show’s director and choreographer; the tale, as he pointed out, was a sad one. Two months ago a ship with the sets, costumes and props for “Rian” left Sweden for New York City. Alas, there was a storm; the ship was diverted to Philadelphia, where it remains.
GIA KOURLAS, The New York Times Full Text
It was an irresistible evening of song, dance and music, where the joy of the performers was contagious. And how the audience loved it! The whole theatre was on its feet, singing along in Gaelic with O Maonlai, giving away the fact that a very large number in the audience were Irish. This was Ireland brought to Paris, and the welcome this warm-hearted troupe were given was overwhelming.
Patricia Boccadoro, Culturekiosque Full Text