Celtic Illusion is the latest phenomenon touring Canada. The show infuses Irish dance and illusions into one, taking the audience by surprise through high energy and fast-paced routines.
Anthony Street, the producer, director, and lead dancer of the show, describes Celtic Illusion as “very unique” as a production that fuses Irish dance and magic.
Right from the start of the show, the audience was entrapped in the atmosphere through distinctly colourful, shimmering outfits, and the high-velocity speed of the dancing. The music accompanied each routine perfectly with emphasis on the sound of the shoes on the stage platform. Each dancer echoed the lead dancer while also putting themselves in the spotlight.
Street explained how the concept came to mind as a way to accomplish two long-term wishes at once.
“I was thinking to myself, I might not get enough time in my life to produce both a dance show and an illusion show,” Street said. “I started Irish dancing when I was 14 years old and I had dreams of a big dance show; then when I got into magic as well at a young age I had big dreams to have a big illusion show.”
The main goal of the show was to entertain the audience to provide an escape from reality. To do this, the show stood out by incorporating illusions and making sure to not come off as cheesy, something Street described to be a challenge.
“There has to be a reason why an illusion would happen in that routine. It’s always finding that perfect little balance but I think we’re constantly right,” he explained.
One of the most common things audience members have commented about is how they aren’t quite sure how the two ideas will work together. However, despite initially thinking of the idea as “bizarre,” they tend to leave “pleasantly surprised.” Street believes that it is the curiosity of the audience that leads to the success of the show.
“The audience reactions are my favourite part of the whole thing,” Street said. “That feedback — it’s the most rewarding thing. And to hear them respond in the way they do is a reminder for me [of] … the whole reason why I do this.”
The show is accompanied by a fiddle player, a singer, and a flute player, with each musician having their moments to shine through the show. They would often be accompanied by a magic number or a dance routine. In one instance where the fiddle player and the flute player had a duet, it came across as a conversation between the two instruments — something truly remarkable on top of the illusions and the dancing.
Street highlighted the influence of Broadway-style productions and Bob Fosse on the performance, but incorporating this into the Irish dance was a challenge in itself. However, this allowed Celtic Illusion to have a clear Broadway atmosphere in certain parts of the show and demonstrate a great variety of choreography. Dancers have mentioned this performance “is the most challenging choreography they’ve had to do” due to the variety within it, something that Street takes pride in.
Street emphasized being able to give the audience a break, seeing something that they don’t see in their everyday life. Celtic Illusion is like going “on a little bit of a journey — an exciting journey with dance, music, and magic.”