On this unseasonably warm and sunny autumn day, I sit on Bristol’s bustling Harbourside, legs dangling over the River Avon. I’m chatting to JP Bowen, Narrator and Singer with Emerald Storm, a high octane dance group who are tapping their Irish inspired feet all over the stage at The Playhouse, Weston, this Friday evening. US-born JP is enjoying a short break from the hectic schedule before jumping back on the tour bus to come South West, when they will dance, sing and storytell 14 shows until the tour ends on 3rd November.
That must be tough going?
“Yes, it is”, JP tells me. “The dancers run off stage every night and start icing their feet!”
And then, I don’t need to ask JP any questions about Emerald Storm because his enthusiasm for his craft and the troupe burst from him (“I love what I do”). What I gather from his impassioned talk is this:
There is a loose storyline to Emerald Storm that tells of an otherworld, a mythological heaven, and JP’s role is to fuse rhyme and poetry and to sing beautiful songs, written by the “extraordinary” Steve Balsamo, the Welsh Singer-Songwriter of Jesus Christ Superstar fame. The show includes original songs by Bristol’s very own Mike Crawshaw of the Overtones, who is also one of the producers of Emerald Storm. JP knows that he is privileged to work with such talent.
The orchestra’s remarkable flow, he says, injects a fresh take on the ancient, while the violinist, who portrays the Queen of the Otherside, tremendously showcases her craft.
But this is really about the dancing, which JP describes as a funking up of Riverdance, taking the base elements of traditional Irish dance (expect the sexiness of salsa and glide of ballroom, for example!), keeping the formations and the postures, but freeing it up, cutting away the regimental yet retaining a thoroughly Celtic vibe for the Twenty First Century.
Captivated, the audience always comes out of this high energy show buzzing. There’s an inevitable risk to being revolutionary but, night after night, the feedback illustrates that the risk is paying off. “It’s fresh cake!” This is for all generations but be prepared to have your eyes opened.
If you go to see Emerald Storm at the Playhouse this weekend, don’t forget to hang around after the show to meet some of the cast. JP will be there (check out the CD too, ‘a gorgeous album’, featuring Steve Balsomo and JP).
I can feel the excitement from here! How can the audience fail to love Emerald Storm when the performers have so much passion?
Emerald Storm comes to The Playhouse, Weston on Friday October 12th