Riverdance Blog

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.

Jean Bulter and Michael Flatley Eurovision 30 April 1994 web

Michael Flatley and Jean Butler perform Riverdance at the 1994 Eurovison, Dublin


Colin Kearney
April 30, 2014

Wow already 20 years..I was awstruck watching the eurovision that night as a young irish emigrant sitting in my bedsit in London..It me made quite emotional and very proud to be irish! I then did my own “version” with my freinds during my wedding (in france) 5 years later..still have the video..now my 3 kids do their version! thank you “riverdance”!

Patrick The Carrot Cake Man
April 30, 2014

Through a very special friend, I was given a ticket for the final dress rehearsal.

I walked over to the point and said to myself, it would kill an afternoon, little did I know what was going top happen in so many ways. I had buried both my parents in the previous year and needed something to cheer me up.

Gerry Ryan in his LAME Suit was in keeping with his brash, over the top character but Cynthia Ni Murchu, was like a screen goddess form the Gold Age Of Holywood.

The initial haunting music remidedd me of a long forgotten sensation of drinking cold milk form a glass bottle.
The gyrations of Flatley and Butler brought me back to the sunday afternoons watching Fred Astaire and Giner Rodgers moving across the screen on a Sunday afternoon.

My Mind was disorientated with adulation so much that I went home and phoned my cousin and said: FORGET THE EUROVISION – WATCH THE INTERVAL ACT – THE REST WAS HISTORY.

In a post-script to this seriously historic moment in time, I later found out that my future wife and he rmother was in the audience.

The passage of time has been kind to the creators of RIVERDANCE – the intiial caution has been reward with financial enrichment way beyond normal comprehension.

For everybody sake my message to the creators is thank you and move on – you gave us a wonderful legacy, please do not let this be ruined by watching a exalted hero wasting in to a spiral of decline

Patrick The Carrot Cake Man
April 30, 2014

History come in many forms -this was far more memorable than all the Ladybird books my mother induced me to read.

Thank you for the legacy

January 10, 2015

will always be i my heart very emotional cant believe its 20 years

January 10, 2015

will always be in my heart. very emotional. cant believe its 20 years already

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