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Riverdance Irish Passion

Updated on June 9, 2015


I have always loved watching Riverdance. Their music is so haunting and powerful. It makes me proud to live in Ireland. It is the most wonderful, exhilarating experience.

Of all the performances to emerge from Ireland in the past decade - in rock, music, theatre and film - nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance.

I remember watching it with my parents and I was fascinated. Just watching all thoose people dancing in time with one another is simply breathtaking.

What is Riverdance?

Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting of traditional Irish step dancing, notable for its rapid leg movements while body and arms are kept largely stationary.

Riverdance started in Dublin in 1995, remarkably as a brilliantly conceived spin-off from a seven-minute intermission piece in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.

It has danced a long way since then, developing into an international phenomenon, with troupes careening and criss-crossing the world.

Riverdance alone has been seen live by more than 21 million people in more than 300 venues, throughout 32 countries across four continents. It has played to a global television audience of more than two billion people and has sold more than three million CDs and 10 million DVDs and videos.


Riverdance was first performed during the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30, 1994. It received a standing ovation. At Congratulations: 50 Years of the Eurovision Song Contest it was voted the most popular interval act in the history of the contest.

This first performance featured Irish Dancing Champion Jean Butler, Michael Flatley, the RTE Concert Orchestra and the Celtic choral group Anúna with a score written by Bill Whelan. Whelan also composed "Timedance" - an early version of "Riverdance" - for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, performed by Planxty. Flatley choreographed for himself and Jean Butler choreographed her solo and the troupe.

I felt like tapping on the way to the car

My Review of Riverdance Live Show

First time I went to see Riverdance in the Gaiety theatre in Dublin 3 years ago. I was blown away by it. I have never seen anything as beautiful as this.

I must say - it was amazing, incredible, marvelous, magical, riveting, stunning, phenomenal, wondrous, fantastic... brilliant!!! The best thing I've ever seen on a stage. My hands nearly fell off with all the applauding. I felt like dancing on the way to my car car! I did! :)

You have to experience it!

At its most basic level Riverdance is an exciting display of music, dancing and singing. On another level it is the story of Ireland and its people. Like a river that is fed by many tributaries, and then flows out into the ocean, the Irish people came from many different places, and then, centuries later, "flowed" out of Ireland to other parts of the world. On still another level, it is the story of humanity's creative exploration of nature through the arts. The show features not only Irish dance, but also Spanish, Russian, and African-American.

The funniest scene of the show

Riverdance Irish Passion

Now in its 14th year, Riverdance goes from strength to strength and continues to amaze audiences across the world. The Riverdance started in Dublin in 1995, remarkably as a brilliantly conceived spin-off from a seven-minute intermission piece in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. It has danced a long way since then, developing into an international phenomenon, with troupes careening and criss-crossing the world.

The concept of Riverdance is both simple and adroit. A Celtic-looking rock-like setting with highly colored projections to vary the look, a load of Irish music and a lot of Irish dancing. The huge popular success of the show derives in part from Moya Doherty's canny producing -all pieces are put together with breathtaking theatricality- and John McColgan's swift, deft staging, which works like a computer but still manages to pervade an unexpected but not unpleasant impression of homespun charm over-riding, or perhaps over-dancing, its awe-inspiring efficiency, and its sweet and sure ability to deliver on every promise, implicit and explicit, suggested by the very idea of an Irish dance spectacular.

The haunting, beautiful voices of The Riverdance Singers are closely interwoven with all the other elements of the show, their harmonies and solo passages bringing echoes of an ancient mysticism. The singers come from many backgrounds and most of them also have other professional qualifications far removed from the stage. But all have one thing in common - a love of Irish music and an urge to bring it to a world audience in the wonderful new guise showcased in this unique production.

The show is simply uplifting, joyous, fun, entertaining and powerful.

Did you know?

Many of the members of the Riverdance Irish Dance Troupe are world-class Irish dancers. They hail mostly from Ireland, but also from Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia. Between them the dancers can boast of literally hundreds of championships won in Ireland and abroad.

Riverdance - The Thunderous Celebration of Irish Music

Riverdance Shoes

The Riverdance show features several types of Celtic dance, including hard and soft shoe dance routines. However, for many people, the hard shoe routines are the essence of Riverdance. The hard shoe numbers are the ones that sound similar to tap dancing. The shoes used for this dance are not the same as American tap shoes, but they do sound alike when you hear them for the first time. The hard shoe routines, such as Reel Around the Sun emphasize the rhythm in the music. Lightning-quick foot movements accent the music, and when the stage is full of dancers doing the same steps, you will be amazed at the reverberating sound the hard shoes produce.

Riverdance Video Clips Collection

Scene by Scene

If you've never seen Riverdance in person or on video, you're truly missing something magnificent. Check out some of these video clips to get an idea of what type of dancing is found in Riverdance, as well as the different types of music that can be heard throughout the show. There is not only Irish music and dance featured, but a famous Flamenco, "Firedance" scene as well. Riverdance is a celebration of music and dance that reaches beyond its Irish roots.

Scene 1 - Reel Around The Sun

The sun brings life and light and fire, the opening dance sequence celebrates this benevolent masculine power. The sun is the light of morning, exuberant and clear.

Scene 2 - The Heart's Cry

There is also that other primeval mystery, the salmon swimming upstream, the blind urgings of nature, heart yearning to heart. We need and sustain each other; we keep this knowledge in song since the beginning of time.

Scene 3 - The Countess Cathleen

Sensual, nurturing, independent and fierce, the power of women as they celebrate themselves, as they challenge men in a dance of empowerment.

Scene 4 - Caoineadh Chu Chulainn

A lone piper mourns Cú Chulainn, the implacable Bronze Age warrior, the great hero of Celtic myth.

Scene 5 - Thunderstorm

The brute power of elemental forces, beyond human control, beyond human understanding.

Scene 6 - Shivna

The myth of Mad Sweeney, Suibhne or Shivna, haunts Ireland since mediaeval times. Driven by forces inside of himself, outside himself, a man dances desperately in the power of the moon. The powers are cruel and arbitrary, female and savage.

Scene 7 - Firedance

In ancient Ireland fire and pride and beauty come out of the south, from the land of the sun. The power of the sun invests itself in the passion of the dancer.

Scene 8 - Slip into Spring - The Harvest

The wheel of the seasons turns slowly, from harvest through dormant winter into the miracle of spring. New growth, exhilaration, the world turns and is made new again.

Scene 9 - Riverdance

Our story begins in the evocation of the Riverwoman, it moves through the dawn of history as the river moves through the land. As the power of the river grows, as the barren earth becomes fertile, as men and women grow in their sense of themselves, our story rises until it floods the world in a vital, joyous riot of celebration.

Scene 10 - American Wake

From the mid-19th century, hunger and famine and ambition drove the Irish out of their home island, across the Atlantic to a New World. Lover parted from lover, families and communities were torn apart.

Scene 11 - Lift the Wings

While those souls who were forced to emigrate were faced with the heartbreak of separation, their human spirit was often lifted by a defiant hope at the prospect of a new life.

Scene 12 - The Harbour of the New World

The music and dance that forged a sense of identity are now exposed to new and unfamiliar cultures. Ultimately, in the blending and fusion that follows, the emigrants find that the totality of human experience and expression is greater even than the sum of its many diverse parts.

4 parts

Scene 13 - Slow Air, Tunes / Heartland

Always the child of the emigrant feels the tug of the homeplace; always that child feels the urge to return. What she or he brings there is a sustaining knowledge: we are who we once were, we are who we have become.

With newfound confidence and pride, the child of the emigrant carries treasured memories home to their birthplace. A long journey ends under a native sky, a new and richer journey has taken its place.

Scene 14 - Riverdance Finale

We are one kind. We are one people now, our voices blended, our music a great world in which we can feel everywhere at home, Ní neart go chur le cheile, together we are strong.

Watching some of these Riverdance dance clips will undoubtedly get you interested in seeing more Irish dance or learning more about Irish dance history. After Riverdance took America by storm, there was a huge increase in the number of children and adults who signed up for Irish step dance classes. Many larger studios added this type of dance to their weekly roster, while smaller schools that could not accommodate classes into their regular schedule, offered workshops every few months for dancers who were interested in trying this sensational dance form.

The Ancient History of Irish Dance

The history of Irish dance started when the Celts arrived in Ireland from central Europe over two thousand years ago. They brought with them their individual styles of dances and music. There are vague references to the early history of Irish dancing but evidence shows that its first participants were the Druids. They danced in religious rituals honoring their pagan gods. Around 400 A.D., after the conversion to Christianity, the new priests adopted the pagan style of art in creating their beautiful manuscripts, and the peasants kept the pagan style of music and dancing.

The circle dances of today began after the Anglo-Norman conquest in the twelfth century. The Carol was a popular Norman dance where the leader sang and a circle of dancers replied with the same song.

Three Irish dances are often referenced from the sixteenth century: the Irish Hey, the Rinnce Fada and the Trenchmore. One of the first mentions to dance was in a letter written to Queen Elizabeth I in 1569 in which the dancers were described as being very beautiful and magnificently dressed first class dancers.

During the mid-sixteenth century, dancers performed in the great halls of newly built castles, and some of the dances were brought to the court of Queen Elizabeth. The Trenchmore was an adaptation of an old Irish peasant dance, and the Hey was a predecessor of the present day reel. Irish dancing was accompanied by the music of the bagpipes and the harp.

Irish Teddydance - Cute video :)

Have you been to Riverdance live show?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I haven't, I would if I had the chance as long as it wasn't out of state.

    • xposedbydesign profile image


      7 years ago

      very nice lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      8 years ago

      I love Riverdance show, and the best for my is Jean Butler with Michael Flatley, I don't think Michael is dancing now...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      No I have never seen Riverdance live, only on TV and tape.

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Another great lens by you. SquidAngel Blessings :)

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Such an exciting performance! I'm linking to this from my main St. Patrick's page. Thanks and 5*!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      9 years ago from Idaho

      I haven't but sure wish I had been able to go!

    • religions7 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Yes I have. It is so fantastic to see live. The feet hammering on the wooden floor. The violins and drums. Wish I could go again.


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