2003 – Riverdance at the Special Olympics
On 21st June 2003 a proud Riverdance troupe participated in the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Croke Park in Dublin.
This was the first time the Games ever took place outside the United States and it was the largest sporting event in the world in 2003.
The spectacular Opening Ceremony saw international stars from the worlds of showbiz and sport join together with 7,000 athletes from over 160 international delegations to collectively celebrate their achievement at reaching the final of the World Summer Games
Light was beginning to fade at ten o’ clock when Pierce Brosnan came on stage to introduce Jean Butler, the original Riverdance lead dancer, who in turn introduced the Riverdance performance. Then Lynn Hillary’s beautiful voice filled Croke Park as Cloudsong began. The Riverdance performance dazzled in the evening light as lead dancers Breandán De Gallaí and Joanne Doyle commanded the huge stage. The sheer volume of dancers thrilled the audience as more and more arrived until 100 dancers were lined up. Special Olympics athletes and other audience members were in the aisles dancing to the music.
“Of course, the organisers were wrong when they said the biggest Riverdance troupe ever assembled would perform onstage during the ceremony. Because, magnificent as the dancers were, they couldn’t compete for numbers with the thousands of dancers who were simultaneously belting out their version of the steps on the turf below.”
Irish Independent 23rd June 2003