The holiday season kicks off in Clearwater with Lindsey Stirling’s Snow Waltz Tour

Live Review

Lindsey Stirling. Photo by Chyrisse.

By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

Live Review: Lindsey Stirling’s Snow Waltz Tour – Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida – November 29, 2022

Lindsey Stirling. Photo by Chyrisse.

Just after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida, kicked off the holiday season with Lindsey Stirling’s Snow Waltz tour. The theater was buzzing with what appeared to be families—Gen X’ers with kids in tow. The multi-generational crowd was ready to see the “hip hop violinist’s” sold-out show, which is now becoming a highly anticipated holiday tradition.

Lindsey Stirling rose to fame in 2010 as a quarter finalist in America’s Got Talent, appeared in the 25th season of Dancing With the Stars and won two Billboard Music Awards for Top EDM and Dance albums.

Stirling danced, pranced, and twirled along with four dancers while playing the violin. The décor was sparse except for a stage set house housing Drew Steen (drums) and Ryan Rivero (guitar/keys) on the false roof. Each song featured beautifully crafted dance choreography, atmospheric smoke, and colored lighting to set the tone.

Lindsey Stirling. Photo by Chyrisse.

Stirling asked, “Do we have any aspiring violinists in the crowd?” Then, she introduced Steen, who has been performing with her the last ten years, and Rivero, explaining she had a “Black Friday” gift for them—child-sized instruments. The crowd roared with laughter as Stirling sat at the front of the stage, flanked by Rivero with a Schroeder-sized piano and Steen with a tiny drum kit. They proceeded to perform a holiday medley including “Deck the Halls/Frosty the Snow Man/Jingle Bell Rock/Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” until Steen asked, “Can you play the Devil Went Down to Georgia?”

People applauded as Stirling performed a few bars of the classic Charlie Daniels Band song.

Stirling explained she became terrific friends with Mark Ballas, her partner in Dancing With the Stars. She noted that Ballas is not only a dancer but also a gifted flamenco guitar player who “arranged the next song.” With Steen on a cajon and Rivero on guitar, Stirling performed a riveting version of “Feliz Navidad” while puppets added the extra punctuation.

During the stage break, a man dressed as a Christmas tree entertained the crowd giving Stirling and the dancers a much-needed “time out.”

Lindsey Stirling. Photo by Chyrisse.

Between songs, which took on a life of their own, Stirling chatted with the audience, making the show feel very intimate. She discussed her angst in performing, including anxiety and fear of audience disappointment. “We love you” were audibly heard coming from various audience members. Her therapist encouraged her to “go out and do this” to share her love of music and dance. She said, “The next song is a song of hope,” before going into a beautiful version of “O Holy Night.” Her form appeared ethereal with the wind blowing her dress, her back arched, and a celestial ring of stage lights shining.

Lindsey Stirling. Photo by Chyrisse.

Speaking with the crowd again, Stirling described the heartbreak of losing her beloved father and best friend to cancer. But, she explained, “angels are so much closer,” and when we are down, “they lift us.”  After reading harsh criticisms in a web thread regarding her violin playing, Stirling felt overwhelmingly hurt. She went for a walk and ran into a neighbor unexpectedly who said, “You are really good at what you do—and it’s not the violin. It’s what you do that is magic.” With her voice cracking, Stirling explained how angels send messages to us as comfort before performing the song “Angels We Have Heard on High.” From that point, the show took on a Cirque du Soleil spin as Stirling rose several feet on suspended rings while playing the violin. It was visually beautiful and music for the soul.

As the evening progressed, several classic holiday songs like “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” “Santa Baby,” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” took on a funky, hip-hop twist. Likewise, “Carol of Bells” and “Mr. Grinch” were synth-filled and danceable.

Another amusing moment was when Stirling asked for a volunteer in the audience to help create TikTok fodder. She entered the audience as her assistant held a cell phone to film.

The Snow Waltz was rich with entertainment (think Broadway). Stirling’s dancing, choreography, authentic personality, and charm created the perfect kick-off for the holiday season. She produces a modern twist to familiar holiday songs, leaving everybody with a smile and warm heart.

PHOTO GALLERY

 

Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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