On March 15, 2019, the lauded National Dance Company of Ireland will present a show titled the “Rhythm of the Dance” which is a two-hour long music and dance extravaganza that features a total of twenty-two step dancers, three tenors, and a fabulous live band. The music touches upon ancient Irish mythology, the experience of Irish emigrants, and more.

Among the featured dancers is Amy Marie Prior who hails from London and started Dancing at the age of three. After earning top marks in every championship in the United Kingdom, Amy toured Russia and Europe.

Now the Lead Female Principle dancer, she has been touring with Rhythm of the Dance for a few years and absolutely enjoys the experience.

Amy discussed this show, dancing, and more via an exclusive interview on March 7, 2019.

Dancing, gymnastics, and Ireland

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get into dancing and why did you focus on the forms that you do?

Amy Marie Prior (AMP): I got into dancing through my family members who are teachers of the art form. My mum would always be taking my older sister to dance so from the age of three, I started to sit in at the class instead of waiting in the car, and I would do as much as I can which my mum said was just pretty much skip around to the music on my tippy toes.

I fell in love with dancing at a young age from watching the “Lord of the Dance” and “Riverdance” Irish dance shows on videotape in the front room. I always knew from watching them; that’s what I wanted to do. When I was younger, I used to do other activities such as gymnastics, Tap, jazz and other styles of dance but I decided at the age of ten that I wanted to focus on Irish dancing since it was so unique.

MM: What are the biggest challenges of dancing for international audiences?

AMP: The biggest challenge when on tour and dancing for such different audiences every night would be the different types of stages at the venues we have to perform on every day. Some stages could have holes or slight dents on the floor, so it is really dangerous for us when dancing if we twist an ankle or trip.

Another challenge for me when performing is not knowing whether the audience members understand the traditional Irish heritage story of the show and not knowing if they might be confused when we come out with brooms and start dancing around them during some of the scenes. But apart from that, I would say the main challenge would be the traveling aspect of being on tour; especially through America where we have long travel days and then could go straight into a show. It can be tough work, but it’s all part of the job.

MM: How did you get involved with the Rhythm of the Dance?

AMP: I got involved with the Rhythm of the Dance when I was eighteen. I saw an advertisement on Facebook saying they were holding auditions in Dublin, Ireland.

I had just finished school and didn’t have any commitments, so I flew over and went to the audition. A couple of weeks later, I got an email to say my first tour would be in Russia, Germany, and Holland. Then two years later I got asked to be the lead dancer and have been dancing with my lead partner Dane McKiernan ever since. I’m so lucky to be doing what I love and performing in such amazing places thanks to Rhythm of the Dance.

Responsibilities, shows, and audiences

MM: What are the responsibilities of being the principle dancer?

AMP: As a lead dancer having solos and being in the center for most of the show, I really need to make sure I give it my all every night for the audience. That is my main responsibility.

I also need to make sure I look after myself physically as it’s a lot of dancing throughout the show to be doing every night for six months. Also, as a principal dancer, we are responsible for training new cast members that need to learn the show.

MM: What’s your favorite moment in the show and why?

AMP: I would have to say my favorite moment in the show would have to be my heavy shoe solo in the second half with the bodhran player. It’s always a moment in the show that audience members comment on especially because it’s such a unique instrument. It also gives me a chance to show off my skills as a dancer since for most of the show I have soft shoe solos. This one is a strong and sexy number where it’s just two of us on stage exchanging beats and rhythms.

It’s also one of the numbers in the show that has the same choreography from 20 years ago, which is really special as it’s our twentieth-anniversary tour and it’s nice to be performing such a well-known number every night to the audience.

MM: What do you hope audiences like most about the dances and is there anything else that you would like to mention?

AMP: Every night you get different reactions from the audience at different moments of the show, but I would hope that they most appreciate the traditional Irish story that we try to tell throughout the show. Also, the live band is exceptional. It’s so nice to be performing to live music every night, and each musician is very talented. Lastly, I would hope that they just enjoy an evening of high energy entertainment, fast moving feet and watching us doing what we love and have trained for since a young age.