Riverdance celebrates 20 years since Eurovision 1994
20 years ago, on 30th April 1994 something extraordinary happened on the banks of the River Liffey at The Point Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
Ireland was hosting the Eurovision song contest and 300 million people witnessed something special during the interval – the birth of an entertainment that would break theatrical records all around the world.
That interval act was – RIVERDANCE.
The magic began with the haunting vocals of the choral group Anúna. Directed by Michael McGlynn featuring Katie McMahon as soprano soloist with Miriam Blennerhassett, Richard Boyle, Sara Clancy, David Clarke, Tony Daveron, Monica Donlon, Caron Hannigan, Peter Harney, Emer Lang, Máire Lang, John McGlynn, Maireád Ni Fhaoláin, Tara O’Beirne, and Garrath Patterson.
This mystical introduction was followed by the arrival onstage of Jean Butler, emerging from a traditional Irish cloak to herald the beginning of a whole new style of Irish dance.
The audience were transfixed as Michael Flatley burst onstage, unlike any Irish dancer ever before and it wasn’t just the steps that had changed, the style and look were completely transformed.
Michael commanded the stage and engaged in a percussive battle with the four stage drummers- Tony Nolan, Andrew Reilly, Darren Smith and Derrick Tallon.
Irish dancers flowed onstage in a perfectly synchronised troupe arriving with a determination and energy never seen before in Irish dance.
The history-making company of Irish dancers were: Dearbhail Bates, Lorna Bradley, Kelly Byrne, Sabrina Carty, Andrea Curley, Breandán de Gallaí, Kathleen Doohan Susan Ginnety, Andrea Kelly, Eileen Martin, Maeve McCarty Kevin McCormack, Ronan McCormack, Belinda Murphy, Lorcan Murphy, Areleen Ní Bhaoill, Niamh O’Brien, Emer O’Grady, Colm Ó Sé, Cormac Ó Sé, Dara O’Shea, Joan Rafter, Lucia Rafter and Tracey Taaffe.
This magical mix was the creation for RTÉ of Producer for the 1994 Eurovision – Moya Doherty. With music from Bill Whelan, choreography by Michael Flatley and Jean Butler and staging by Mavis Ascott.
An interval act that eclipsed the main event and lit a fire that would fuel the creation of the full stage show only nine months later – a fire that continues to burn to this day.
Truly – a night to remember.