Ireland in the News
Riverdance at Twenty
"An interval act that lit a fire..."
Dancing is a huge part of Irish culture, and it remains a common sight in the more traditional pubs across Ireland, always set to traditional Irish folk music. But it was in a very different setting that Irish dance found the global audience it enjoys today, as the now global phenomenon that is Riverdance took to the stage for the first time in Dublin on 30 April 1994.
It was the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest, hosted by Ireland as the winning nation from the previous year, and as Anúna took to the stage to deliver the opening bars of Bill Whelan's "full-bodied orchestral dance piece", now synonymous with Irish culture the world over, but then still an undiscovered treasure.
Of course, it was the breath-taking partnership of Jean Butler and Michael Flatley which would truly capture the public imagination, driving the performance relentlessly toward its pounding denouement and the image which would forever be associated with Riverdance - rows of perfectly synchronised Irish dancers moving in spell-binding coordination.
Even despite the rapturous applause the cast received that night on the banks of the Liffey, few could have predicted what a global success Riverdance would become in sharing Irish culture with the world. Twenty years later, the show has been performed in cities across the globe and, with a multinational cast, continues to attract new talent to the sphere of Irish folk dance wherever it goes.
As part of its twentieth anniversary celebrations, Riverdance will be touring France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway. Finland, Russia, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom throughout 2014 in what promises to be another global showcase of Irish culture.
You can find out more about the Riverdance 20 Years tour by visiting riverdance.com.