“I didn’t think they expected me to go,” Petracic said. “Seeing as I was from Australia, it’s a long way and a lot of money, but it’s a big opportunity and I wasn’t going to pass it up.”
Turns out, the land down under made a strong showing for the auditions. Five Aussies are in the cast now, including Petracic and her sister. “For an international show it’s unheard of to even have one,” she said.
The variety of experience and training the Petracic sisters have had -- an asset shared by all the Irish dancers in the troupe -- has been central to the message of the show.
Petracic said, “‘Heartbeat of Home’ is more about the evolution of dance, and how Irish dance has made its way throughout the years and how it has influenced other forms of dance and how the other forms of dance have influenced Irish dancing. The evolution of dance, really, is what I think the show really entails and produces to the audience.”
In addition to the dancers, “Heartbeat of Home” features a live band. The music is composed to tell the story of a global dance culture, and it moves beyond the sound of traditional Irish music.
“This concept in the story comes first, the music comes second, then you work very closely with the choreographers and reshaping it to make sure that it’s the right rhythm for the dancers,” Doherty said. “Our composer was writing the music in Los Angeles and sending it to us and the choreographers were listening to it, and saying ‘We need a few more bars here, we need it to be faster, we need a female dancer here.’”
The composer would then adjust the melody to fit the dance.
While “Heartbeat of Home” is a more challenging performance than “Riverdance” was, the dancers rose to the task, Doherty said.