[ON STAGE]Irish dance more a Vegas revue

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[ON STAGE]Irish dance more a Vegas revue

"Spirit of the Dance" is a dance musical by the Irish International Dance Company, but you have to look really closely if you want to see something resembling a jig or a reel. The troupe's 30 performers wear gaudy outfits and shiny stockings, and the stage pulses with dramatic lighting effects that change with every act, making the show seem more like a Las Vegas extravaganza than an Irish stomp.

Granted, the choreography of "Spirit" is infused with spicy Latino rhythms like tango, flamenco and salsa, which interweave with the Celtic steps.

The Irish troupe first performed in Korea last year, with a successful run at the Seoul Arts Center. It's now back for a week of performances at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, and sold out its Tuesday opener.

People hoping to enjoy the traditional Irish elements in the show may be disappointed, for they seem nothing more than accessories, or bait to draw in the audience. In fact, there were some Buddhist monks in attendance Tuesday who were probably surprised by how unsettlingly loud the music was.

The show gushes sexuality, which was probably what the musical producer, David King, had in mind. King said that his inspiration for the work was the music he grew up with, such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as well as ethnic Irish tunes.

The dance company was born six years ago with a debut performance at the Bristol Hippodrome Theater in England. Since then it has expanded in scale and recognition, especially after participating in a "Michael Jackson and Friends" concert in 1999. The company now has six separate groups comprising some 250 dancers and hundreds of technical staff that tour the world.

The eclectic and thundering footwork sells a lot of tickets, but fails to satisfy everyone's taste. Tellingly, the group has received plenty of negative reviews. Some critics say "Spirit" is a crime against the sanctity of traditional Irish dance, and complain that the group contains members who know little about Irish dance.

Nevertheless, if you've got a hankering for a little more Irish spirit than a couple pints of Guinness in Itaewon can provide, here is the perfect solution for your weekend.

The shows run through Sunday. Ticket prices range from 30,000 won ($23) to 70,000 won. For more information, call 1588-7890.

by Park Soo-mee

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