BWW Interview - Stepping into RIVERDANCE with Will Bryant
With St. Patrick's Day is a couple months away, you can get an early dose of Irish culture by seeing RIVERDANCE, which is coming to the Dr. Phillips Center later this month. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, the beloved RIVERDANCE still delights audiences around the world.
For 23 year old principal dancer, Will Bryant, touring with RIVERDANCE has been a dream come true. "When it first came out, I was not even born yet," he says. "I first saw RIVERDANCE in 2010 at the Capitol Theatre in Sydney, Australia. And when I saw it, I knew it was what I wanted to do."
Will has been dancing since he was four years old. He trained in various styles from ballet to tap to jazz to contemporary, and of course Irish step dance, all of which are helpful for being a dancer in RIVERDANCE. "There are definitely aspects of ballet and contemporary that help me in this show. Your stage presence and how you perform makes the difference as a principal dancer. Ballet is especially good for flexibility. To be a ballet dancer, you have to be a lot more flexible, but it all helps."
Many kids take dance classes when they are young, but few make it to a professional level. At the time of his audition, Will was dancing six days a week. He was committed to dance and thought, "why not make a living out of it?" At the same time, becoming a professional dancer is not something to be taken lightly. "It's something you gotta put your entire life into. I'm a creative person and dance gave me that [outlet]."
Commitment to dance is also Will's advice to young performers. He reminds us that while practice makes perfect, it is not the only thing that makes a good dancer. "Don't just focus on the technique. Also focus on the performance," he advises. "Performance is what the audience takes away from whatever you're trying to portray. Technique is important, but the performance is what they remember. There is a huge difference between a dance and a performance."
Will credits the audience with giving him motivation to perform. To the outsider, performing the same show for a few years may be tedious. To keep it fresh, Will says he does little things like changing an arm or head position with the goal of engaging the audience each night. "I do something different every night," he recalls. "Also a fresh city is always something new. He always play off the audience. It's a lot of fun."
Will's favorite number occurs at the end of Act I. In a piece titled "Riverdance," the music and energy build along with the speed of the dancer's taps. The crowd goes wild. While not all numbers are like "Riverdance," they are all distinctly Irish. "I think that some people don't realize how creative and different Irish dancing is," says Will. "It's cultural. For those people who haven't seen it before, [this show] gives them insight into what we do. I hope people come away with a love of dance."
Auditioning for RIVERDANCE is no easy feat. Although, Will has also competed in Irish dance since he was four years old, there is always those nerves. For Will, he felt that he "fit right in." The company feels like a family. In fact, some of the performers who were in that 2010 company when Will first saw the production are still with the show today.
While the show is a dream come true, traveling is the best and worst part. Will has been on tour for four years, and in that time he has visited ten different countries and hundreds of cities. But travel days are also one of the most challenging things. Imagine being on a bus for 14 hours or a plane a few times a week. The dancers have to be sure that during the travel days they are stretching and making the most of their off time. Though the show is very demanding the crew also has a physical therapist and a masseuse on staff.
For Will, being in RIVERDANCE means everything. "This is always something I've wanted to do," he says. "Being a part of a timeless show is phenomenal and clearly people aren't getting sick of it anytime soon. We get crowds who've seen it many times. It means everything to me to give them the show they want to see."
Don't miss Will Bryant and his fellow cast members as RIVERDANCE: 20th Anniversary Tour dances its way into the Dr. Phillips Center at various showtimes from January 26 -28th. For tickets and more information visit https://www.drphillipscenter.org/events/tickets/2018/riverdance/.
Photo credit: Will Bryant and Riverdance company courtesy of Riverdance