Review: Heartbeat of Home (Mirvish)

Heartbeat of Home

Heartbeat of Home is a global celebration of dance playing at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre

This afternoon my new friend Ryan and I saw the North American premier of Heartbeat of Home at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. It was a lovely way to spend a snowy Sunday afternoon. For more than two hours I forgot about winter.

From the moment that the show opened with a bright white spotlight on the feet of a dancer until it ended with the entire company on stage I was entranced. Heartbeat of Home is an exuberant, sexy tribute to the diversity of dance.

Given that it’s from the same duo who  created Riverdance – John McColgan and Moya Doherty – I was right in expecting Irish dance. What I didn’t expect was Irish dance (hard shoe and soft shoe) mixed with with Flamenco – and the Tango, and Salsa, and Afro Cuban, and Streetbeat – and that it would all work so beautifully together.

During intermission I was thinking about what kind of reaction the person who said “Let’s have Flamenco dancers with Irish dancers in the new show” received. I’m sure everyone thought s/he was mad.

Heartbeat of Home is a beautiful show. Everything about it is beautiful. I kept hearing the people in front of me and to the right of me whispering “That was beautiful” to their seatmates. The dancers are beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many gorgeous people on stage at one time. (Normally I wouldn’t comment on the performers’ appearances but Ryan said it’s acceptable when they are as talented as these dancers.)

And that’s the other thing – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many talented dancers on stage at the same time. They’re amazing. Obviously their unorthodox online auditions payed off.

The music was wonderful. The musicians were on two stands, one on either side of the stage, and the stands could magically roll out and together. The musicians were an integral part of the show. One of the pieces started with a solo by the bodhrán player and then expanded to include hard shoe dancers, first one, and then another, and another until the rhythm was so strong that I could feel the vibrations.

After the standing ovation and the bows, when the dancers had left the stage, the musicians came down from their stands and performed a small show of their own as they took their bows. It was lovely.

The impressive projections and the lighting combined to provide changing backdrops that provided atmosphere for the numbers. One number, The Tempest, is acapella hard shoe with the projection and lighting creating a very realistic storm.  Another number was set against a recreation of the famous photo of construction workers sitting on a girder high above Manhattan.

Go see Heartbeat of Home. Forget about winter for a while.


  • Heartbeat of Home is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria Street or 263 Yonge St) until March 2nd
  • Performances: Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm
  • Tickets range from $35.00 to $130.00
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 416 872 1212, or in person at the box office

 Photo of the cast provided by the company.