Riverdance
20th Anniversary logo
GenreIrish folk music, Irish dance
Show typeTouring theatrical show
Date of premiere9 February 1995 (1995-02-09)
LocationPoint Theatre, Dublin
Creative team
ComposerBill Whelan
ProducerMoya Doherty
DirectorJohn McColgan
Other information
Starring
OriginInterval performance act at the Eurovision Song Contest 1994
Notable early runs
Official website

Riverdance is a theatrical show that consists mainly of traditional Irish music and dance. With a score composed by Bill Whelan, it originated as an interval act during the Eurovision Song Contest 1994, featuring Irish dancing champions Jean Butler, Michael Flatley and the vocal ensemble Anúna. Shortly afterwards, husband and wife production team John McColgan and Moya Doherty expanded it into a stage show, which opened in Dublin on 9 February 1995. As of 2023, the show continues to tour the world.

Background

Riverdance is rooted in a three-part suite of baroque-influenced traditional music called Timedance. The suite was composed, recorded and performed for the Eurovision Song Contest 1981, which was held in Ireland.[1] At the time, Bill Whelan and Dónal Lunny composed the music, augmenting the Irish folk band Planxty with a rock rhythm section of electric bass and drums and a four-piece horn section. The piece was performed, with accompanying dancers from Dublin City Ballet,[2] during the interval of the contest, and later released as a Planxty single. Whelan had also produced EastWind, a 1992 album by Planxty member Andy Irvine with Davy Spillane, which fused Irish and Balkan folk music and influenced the genesis of "Riverdance".[3] After composing "Riverdance",[1] Whelan said, "It was no mistake of mine to call it Riverdance because it connected absolutely to Timedance".[4]

History

1994

External videos
YouTube logo
Riverdance YouTube video
video icon Riverdance at the Eurovision Song Contest 30 April 1994, Dublin

Riverdance was first performed during the seven-minute interval of the Eurovision Song Contest 1994 at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 30 April 1994. The performance was transmitted to an estimated 300 million viewers worldwide[5][6] and earned a standing ovation.[7][8] The performance is often considered the most well-known interval act in Eurovision history[9][10][11] and is credited with transforming Irish dance from a chaste and reserved traditional dance form into a new, modern form.[12] The original seven-minute version was invited to perform at Dominion Theatre in London at the Royal Variety Performance in the presence of Prince Charles in November 1994.[13]

The song "Riverdance", featuring Anúna and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, was released as a single[14][15] and subsequently topped the Irish Singles Chart for a record-setting 18 weeks.[16][17] As of 2010, it was still the second highest-selling single of all time in Ireland, behind only Elton John's 1997 double A-side "Candle in the Wind 1997"/"Something About the Way You Look Tonight".[18]

1995

Anúna performing in "Riverdance: The Show", February 1995

After witnessing the initial enthusiasm for the interval act performance in Ireland, husband and wife production team John McColgan and Moya Doherty invested over $1 million into producing a full-length show.[6] Tickets for the show were released for a five-week run and sold out within three days of going on sale.[7]

"Riverdance: The Show" opened at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 9 February 1995.[19] The show starred lead dancers Michael Flatley and Jean Butler. The video of the show topped the Irish and UK charts in 1995.[19]

The show moved to London in June 1995, where it had a sell-out four-week run at The Apollo.[20] During its time in London, Riverdance performed at the Royal Gala 50th Anniversary of VE Day celebrations at the invitation of Prince Charles[21] and at the Royal College of Music in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II.[20]

The show returned to the Point Theatre in July 1995 for a sell-out six-week run.[20]

The show's growing success coincided with lead dancer Michael Flatley clashing with the producers over salary and royalty fees.[22] By early October 1995, a contract dispute over creative control led to Riverdance parting ways with Flatley on the eve of reopening for a second sell-out run at The Apollo.[23] He was replaced by Colin Dunne.[24] At the same time, female lead Jean Butler was unable to perform due to an injury. As a result, Dunne paired up with Eileen Martin for the opening night.[25][26] The initial six weeks at The Apollo was extended twice.[20] During this extended period, Riverdance returned to the Royal Variety Performance at Dominion Theatre.[27]

1996–1998

Riverdance travelled to the United States for the first time in March 1996.[28] On 13 March, the show opened at Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the first of eight sold-out performances over five days. Costing about $2 million to bring the show from Ireland, Riverdance broke even in its first New York outing.[29]

Upon returning from New York, Riverdance went on to have another notable extended run at The Apollo between May 1996 and January 1997.[30][31] By late 1996, Riverdance had created separate companies in order to tour multiple cities at the same time. The Lee company began a U.S. tour in October 1996.[29][30][31] Riverdance toured Australia for the first time in 1997.[32][33]

A number of notable cast departures occurred around this time, with Anúna leaving in September 1996;[34] Butler leaving in January 1997;[25][35] and Dunne leaving in June 1998.[36]

Early 2000s

In 2000, Riverdance performed on Broadway in New York at the Gershwin Theatre.[37][38] In 2003, Riverdance featured at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics in Dublin[39] and toured China for the first time.[40]

Legacy

Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, in 2019

In 2020, Riverdance's 25th Anniversary show began touring.[32] As of 2023, Riverdance has played more than 15,000 performances across 49 countries and six continents. The show has been seen live by more than 30 million people.[32]

In 2021, an animated feature film titled Riverdance: The Animated Adventure was released.[41]

Dance numbers and songs performed

Riverdance songs and dance numbers from the five live recordings of the show
Riverdance: The Show (1995)
Michael Flatley & Jean Butler
Riverdance: Live From New York City (1996)
Colin Dunne & Jean Butler
Riverdance: Live From Geneva (2002)
Breandán de Gallaí & Joanne Doyle
Riverdance: Live From Beijing (2010)
Padraic Moyles & Aislinn Ryan
Riverdance 25 Anniversary Show: Live In Dublin (2020)
Bobby Hodges & Amy-Mae Dolan
  1. Reel Around the Sun
  2. The Heart's Cry
  3. Countess Cathleen – Women of the Sidhe
  4. Caoineadh Chú Chulainn
  5. Distant Thunder
  6. Firedance
  7. Cloudsong
  8. Riverdance
  9. Lift the Wings
  10. Freedom
  11. Harlem to Hollywood
  12. Andalucía
  13. Macedonian Morning
  14. Marta's Dance – The Russian Dervish
  15. Hope to the Suffering
  16. Michael Flatley Flute Solo – Whispering Winds
  17. Home and the Heartland
  18. Heartland
  19. Riverdance International
  1. Reel Around the Sun
  2. The Heart's Cry
  3. Countess Cathleen – Women of the Sidhe
  4. Caoineadh Chú Chulainn
  5. Thunderstorm
  6. Firedance
  7. Slip into Spring – The Harvest
  8. Cloudsong
  9. Riverdance
  10. American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set)
  11. Lift the Wings
  12. Heal Their Hearts – Freedom
  13. Trading Taps
  14. Marta's Dance – The Russian Dervish
  15. Oscail An Doras
  16. Heartbeat of the World
  17. Homecoming
  18. Home and the Heartland
  19. Heartland
  20. Riverdance International
  1. Reel Around the Sun
  2. The Heart's Cry
  3. Countess Cathleen – Women of the Sidhe
  4. Caoineadh Chú Chulainn
  5. Thunderstorm
  6. Shivna
  7. Firedance
  8. Slip into Spring – The Harvest
  9. Cloudsong
  10. Riverdance
  11. American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set)
  12. Lift the Wings
  13. Heal Their Hearts – Freedom
  14. Trading Taps
  15. Macedonian Morning
  16. Marta's Dance – The Russian Dervish
  17. Andalucía
  18. Rí Rá (Oscail An Doras)
  19. Slow Air / The Tunes
  20. Home and the Heartland
  21. Heartland
  22. Finale / Riverdance International
  1. Reel Around the Sun
  2. The Heart's Cry
  3. Countess Cathleen – Women of the Sidhe
  4. Caoineadh Chú Chulainn
  5. Thunderstorm
  6. Shivna
  7. Firedance
  8. Slip into Spring – The Harvest
  9. Cloudsong
  10. Riverdance
  11. American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set)
  12. Lift the Wings
  13. Heal Their Hearts – Freedom
  14. Trading Taps
  15. Marta's Dance – The Russian Dervish
  16. Oscail An Doras
  17. Andalucía
  18. Slow Air / The Tunes
  19. Heartland
  20. Finale / Riverdance International
  1. Reel Around the Sun
  2. The Heart's Cry
  3. Countess Cathleen – Women of the Sidhe
  4. Caoineadh Chú Chulainn
  5. Thunderstorm
  6. Firedance
  7. Shivna
  8. Slip into Spring – The Harvest
  9. Cloudsong
  10. Riverdance
  11. American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set)
  12. Lift the Wings
  13. Trading Taps
  14. Macedonian Morning
  15. Marta's Dance – The Russian Dervish
  16. Heartbeat of the World
  17. Andalucía
  18. Anna Livia
  19. Slow Air / The Tunes
  20. Heartland
  21. Finale / Riverdance International

Notable lead dancers

Other notable dancers

Musicians

In the spirit of traditional sessions, the musicians play on stage without sheet music.[42]

Recordings

CD

VHS

DVD

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Ceolas Profile: Planxty". Ceolas.org. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  2. ^ Walsh, Ciarán (30 November 2022). "How roots of Riverdance can be found in Kerry". RTÉ. Retrieved 5 November 2023.
  3. ^ Ó Cinnéide, Barra (2002). Riverdance: The Phenomenon. Ireland: Blackhall Publishing. ISBN 1-901657-90-6.
  4. ^ O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 296–299. ISBN 0-340-83796-9.
  5. ^ "Riverdance Unveiled at Eurovision in Dublin 1994". RTE.ie. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b Bortoli, Natalie (30 June 1997). "THE MARKETING 100: 'RIVERDANCE': MOYA DOHERTY". AdAge.com. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b "MR riverdance steps up a gear". Independent.ie. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Original Riverdancer tells all, 30 years on from Eurovision". RTE News. 30 April 2024. Retrieved 30 April 2024.
  9. ^ Davies, Luke (15 November 2014). "10 of the most memorable interval acts". JustAnotherLight.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  10. ^ Granger, Anthony (22 March 2015). "Eurovision's Greatest Hits: Riverdance To Perform". Eurovoix.com. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  11. ^ Dempsey, James (21 May 2015). "From worst to Riverdance: A comprehensive ranking of Ireland's Eurovision interval acts". NewsTalk.com. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  12. ^ Warren, Jane (23 August 2014). "What became of the Riverdance Queen? Jean Butler explains why she left the limelight". Express.co.uk. Archived from the original on 9 July 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  13. ^ "1994". Riverdance.com. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  14. ^ "Riverdance the Single on Discogs". discogs.com. May 2019. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  15. ^ RTÉ Archives (30 April 1994). "Riverdance Unveiled at Eurovision in Dublin 1994". rte.ie. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  16. ^ Brinn, David (9 August 2011). "Sailing with the 'Riverdance' of life". JPost.com. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  17. ^ Myers, Justin (19 July 2018). "The history of the Official Irish Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Top 20 of All Time". Irishcharts.ie. Irish Recorded Music Association. Archived from the original on 22 March 2019. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  19. ^ a b "1995 part 2". Riverdance.com. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  20. ^ a b c d "1995 part 3". Riverdance.com. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  21. ^ O'Reilly, Jo (23 March 2016). "Twenty one stomping facts about the Riverdance phenomenon". IrishPost.co.uk. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  22. ^ Hartigan, Patti (27 May 1997). "Lord of 'Lord of the Dance' gives his side of the story". BaltimoreSun.com. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  23. ^ "Michael Flatley's very last dance". Independent.ie. 26 June 1998. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  24. ^ Sweet, Matthew (24 November 1996). "ARTS: EXTRACTING THE MICHAEL". Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  25. ^ a b Looseleaf, Victoria (9 April 1998). "Stepping Into a Dream". LATimes.com. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  26. ^ Riverdance (2005). Riverdance – The Ten Years (Documentary). Tyrone Productions.
  27. ^ "Trading Taps at the Royal Variety Performance 20 November 1995". Riverdance.com. 20 November 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  28. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna (15 March 1996). "DANCE REVIEW;Irish Steps and Their Kin". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  29. ^ a b Marks, Peter (21 June 1996). "On Stage, and Off". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  30. ^ a b "1995 to 1998 : cities performed". Riverdance.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  31. ^ a b "1996". Riverdance.com. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  32. ^ a b c "Riverdance 25th anniversary show to tour Australia in 2024". TheSenior.com.au. 10 October 2023. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  33. ^ MacNaughton, Tanya (3 October 2023). "Riverdance announces 25th anniversary Australian tour starting at Perth's RAC Arena". The West Australian. Retrieved 30 November 2023.
  34. ^ "Anúna". CelticCafe.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  35. ^ O'Sullivan, Kevin (26 October 1999). "Riverprancer; JEAN BUTLER LIFTS THE LID ON LIFE WITH RIVERDANCE CO-STAR MICHAEL FLATLEY". The Mirror. Retrieved 9 July 2017. But two years ago she followed in Flatley's high-kicking footsteps and suddenly quit.
  36. ^ "Biography". ColinDunne.com. Archived from the original on 15 August 2017. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  37. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (17 March 2000). "DANCE REVIEW; With Fast Feet and Fiddles, An Irish Perennial Returns". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 9 July 2017.
  38. ^ "Broadway Opening Night 2000". Riverdance.com. 17 March 2000. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  39. ^ "Riverdance at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics, Dublin 2003". YouTube.com. 26 November 2010. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021. Retrieved 2 June 2015.
  40. ^ Watts, Jonathan (14 October 2003). "Riverdance takes a great leap forward on Mao's stage". theguardian.com. Retrieved 27 October 2023.
  41. ^ Molumby, Deirdre (11 May 2021). "That 'Riverdance' animated movie is going to Sky Cinema and NOW". entertainment.ie. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  42. ^ Jarlath Regan (18 August 2019). "The Riverdance Episode: Episode 309". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (309 ed.). SoundCloud. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  43. ^ Brown, David (2007). God and Grace of Body: Sacrament in Ordinary. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-19-959996-7.
Preceded byJohnny Logan Eurovision Song ContestFinal Interval act 1994 Succeeded byMícheál Ó Súilleabháin