Riverdance Blog

The night Riverdance was introduced to the world

April 30th, 1994 was the night Riverdance was introduced to the world.

20 years ago, on April 30th 1994 something happened during the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest that was to lead to the creation of one of the most successful stage shows of all time and introduce the wider world to Irish dance and music.
As votes were being counted around Europe, in Dublin in the Point Theatre (now the O2), RIVERDANCE burst onto the stage and took the audience by complete surprise.
From the haunting vocals of anúna, the graceful elegance of Jean Butler, the explosive arrival of Michael Flatley and culminating in a long line of Irish dancers beating the stage in perfect heart-stopping harmony – a whole new genre of entertainment was born and 20 years and 25 million audience members later – Riverdance still astonishes globally.
Riverdance would like to hear where you were on that extraordinary night. Share your memories online at #riverdance20

RIVERDANCE for Eurovision 1994 was presented by RTE, created and produced by Moya Doherty, with music by Bill Whelan, choreography by Michael Flatley and Jean Butler and staging by Mavis Ascot.
Riverdance are inviting stories from the Irish dancers they inspired and the audience they have delighted over 20 years.

Riverdance, the full length show, will run at the Gaiety Theatre this summer from 23 June – 31 August 2014. Now booking.

Sinead Keighron
April 30, 2014

I will never forget that night as i was pregnant with my twin daughters who danced just about as much in me as the show itself so much so i had to go to bed straight away after Riverdance and had to wait until the next morning to discover we had won the Eurovision, It was a wonderful to watch and a night always to remember. xxx

Natalie Craig
April 30, 2014

I can remember exactly where I was sitting at home on the sofa that night watching it on the TV. My parents had gone to bed as we had to be up early for a flight the next day but my sister & I wanted to watch Eurovision. We were completely blown away by riverdance, I actually remember applauding watching it! We couldn’t stop talking about it the next day either! I remember trying to explain it to my parents but my words of course couldn’t do it justice. I can still recall walking through Luton airport & being on the airplane and all the time I was still thinking about it & replaying in my head what I had seen. I have seen the live show 4 times since and I am looking forward to seeing it again in Liverpool later this year. My husband & mother in law have never seen it live so I have booked tickets for them to see it too as it is an experience that I think should never be missed! I will be the woman in the audience who won’t be able to keep her feet still when she hears the music start up and I will definitely be on my feet applauding at the end 🙂 #riverdance20

Glenn Vilar
April 30, 2014

I was at the very first show, a rehearsal the day before Eurovision.
I went to the loo.

Conor Whelan
April 30, 2014

John McColgan used to drop into to the local newsagents in Howth for the paper.

I cheekily asked to go and see the Eurovision dress rehearsal and John agreed.
I got to see Riverdance before everyone else. It was, and still is, utterly exceptional.

April 30, 2014

I can remember this night so well sitting at home on the sofa watching the Eurovision. When Michael flatley came onto the stage, with the drummers playing in the background. i said to myself this guy is amazing dancer, i couldn’t believe how fast he was on stage, and a amazing dancer as well. then when jean butler and michael flatley danced with the rest of the troupe it was amazing, and so many memories of it we will never forget.
20 years and it’s still performing all over the world. well done riverdance on reaching 20years of the show, to all the former dancers, who danced in the show, singers, dancers, cast, crew, and of course management, great work you have done in this show. keep it up for another 20 years. love seeing this show so much on stage, one of the best shows ever and still is.
what would be nice is a big reunion of Jean Butler, Michael Flatley and the former dancers who took part on the night of april 30th 1994 back on stage just one last time for everyone to see. it would be lovely achievement and surprise for everyone, or even a tv interview would be nice. Enjoy the rest of your celebrations.

Ciara Murphy
May 2, 2014

I was in the Big Tree pub on Dorset Street in Dublin and it was being shown on a screen but the sound was down. I think we realised there was something “big” going on on the TV and the music in the pub was turned off and the TV turned up !! (unheard of !) it was one of those moments in time, hairs stood up on the back of your neck, you were transfixed by it all and then everyone cheered at the end. It was the talk of Ireland (and Europe) for months afterwards. I had it recorded at home to watch the next day (on d’video) and watched it OVER AND OVER for ages !! What an amazing show and what amazing clever and visionary people you are to come up with it ! Long live RIVERDANCE its a true legacy for Ireland for the future generations to learn about up there with our literature / music / history.

May 10, 2014

I was a alone in my small room in a student block in Huddersfield wishing I was home when Riverdance came on screen. The whole act was thrilling and magnificent. I had not seen Michael Flately dance since I was a teenager in Feis Shligigh, he was amazing then but this was a whole new playing field for Irish dance and performance. I was so proud to be Irish that night. Michael – any chance you would bring the Madame Markievicz cup back to Sligo…..

November 9, 2017

I was still a teenager when i watched Riverdance, then there was no social media and the internet was still in its infancy kinda so i couldn’t keep up with the subsequent events. I ever stopped playing the sngs in my head, i still had those memories until one day i saw Riverdance on YouTube and i was so excited to bring back those memories, every bit of fit was exciting; i wish they would perform in London sometime too.

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