Riverdance Scenes | All The Show Acts - Riverdance

A Primitive & Powerful World

Act 1

Our ancestors knew fear and joy and fire, worked wood and stone and water to make a place they could call home. The first peoples knew the world as a place of power, their songs and dances and stories are negotiations with elemental powers. The first half of this performance shows them coming to terms with the world and with themselves.


Scene 1

The sun brings life and light and fire, the opening dance sequence celebrates this benevolent masculine power.

The sun is the light of morning, exuberant and clear.

Original Choreography: Michael Flatley

The Heart’s Cry

Scene 2

There is also that other primeval mystery, the salmon swimming upstream, the blind urgings of nature, heart yearning to heart. We need and sustain each other; we keep this knowledge in song since the beginning of time.

“I am that deep pool,
I am that dark spring,
Warm with a mystery,
I may reveal to you.”

The Countess Cathleen

Scene 3

Sensual, nurturing, independent and fierce, the power of women as they celebrate themselves,  as they challenge men in a dance of empowerment.

Original Choreography: Jean Butler, Moscow Folk Ballet Company

Caoineadh Cú Chulainn

Scene 4

A lone piper mourns Cú Chulainn, the implacable Bronze Age warrior, the great hero of Celtic myth.


Scene 5

The brute power of elemental forces, beyond human control, beyond human understanding. The defiant courage of those who stand out against those forces, who will not be beaten down.

Original Choreography: Michael Flatley


Scene 6

In ancient Ireland, fire and pride and beauty come out of the south, from the land of the sun. The power of the sun invests itself in the passion of the dancer.

Original Choreography: Maria Pagés, Colin Dunne


Scene 7

The myth of Mad Sweeney, Suibhne or Shivna, haunts Ireland since medieval times. Driven by forces inside himself, outside himself, a man dances desperately in the power of the moon. The powers are cruel and arbitrary, female and savage.

I am Sweeney lost bereft. I was the land and the land was me.
Tall and straight I walked in the world. But Bell and Cross banished my comfort.  Ragged and bruised I flee from branch to branch. The thorns scourge me. I have no peace by night or day.

“Suibne, Suibne, Sirthecháin, Sirthecháin, Suibne!

Original Choreography: Moscow Folk Ballet Company restaged by Svetlana Malinina

Slip into Spring – The Harvest

Scene 8

The wheel of the seasons turns slowly, from harvest through dormant winter into the miracle of spring. New growth, exhilaration, the world turns and is made new again.


Scene 9

Our story begins in the evocation of the Riverwoman, it moves through the dawn of history as the river moves through the land. As the power of the river grows, as the barren earth becomes fertile, as men and women grow in their sense of themselves, our story rises until it floods the world in a vital, joyous riot of celebration.

“I am living to nourish you, cherish you
I am pulsing the blood in your veins
Feel the magic and power of surrender to life
Uisce Beatha”

Original Choreography: Mavis Ascott, Michael Flatley (Irish Dance Step Choreography), Jean Butler (Female Solo Choreography)

We learned to belong to the world

Act 2

War, famine and slavery shattered the ancient bonds between people and place. Forced dislocations marked and altered the histories of the native peoples. As we came into history we learned to guard what we valued, to accommodate ourselves to others, to learn new ways of being ourselves, to embrace new kinds of courage. Cast out and momentarily orphaned, we learned to belong to the world.

American Wake

Scene 10

From the mid-19th century, hunger and famine and ambition drove the Irish out of their home island, across the Atlantic to a New World.  Lover parted from lover, families and communities were torn apart.

Original Choreography: Michael Flatley, Paula Nic Cionnath (Set Dance Consultant)

Lift the Wings

Scene 11

While those souls who were forced to emigrate were faced with the heartbreak of separation, their human spirit was often lifted by a defiant hope at the prospect of a new life.

“Lift the wings that carry me away from here and
Fill the sail that breaks the line to home
When I’m miles and miles apart from you
I’m beside you when I think of you,
a Stóirín a Grá”

Trading Taps

Scene 12

The wealth of the poor is in song, dance and story. Under the street lamps in the new cities, the dancers perform with pride in their heritage, curious to see what other traditions bring, struggling to bridge the gap between old dreams and new realities.

“Tall and straight
my mother taught me,
This is how we dance “

Original Choreography: Colin Dunne, Tarik Winston

Macedonian Morning / The Dervish

Scene 13

Meeting the new, what we learn first is that there is something familiar in what is strange, something strange in what we had thought familiar. A tune from another place, another lifetime, can turn and haunt the heart and inspire the dances from a distant homeland.

Choreography The Dervish: Moscow Folk Ballet Company. Restaged by Svetlana Malinina

Ritmos Del Corazon/ Andalucía

Scene 14

In the cauldron of the big city, the pulsing energy of the streets is reflected in the fiery Latin dance rhythms.

Original Choreography: Maria Pagés

Anna Livia

Scene 15

The river flows full circle from sea to sky to mountain and back home. Collecting, gathering, arriving enriched, fulfilled, ready to start its journey once more.

“Into the river
that had been a stream,
there fell a tear a singult tear
the loveliest of all tears”

Original Choreography: John Carey. Additional text adapted from James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake by Bill Whelan

Slow Air & Tunes

Scene 16

“The moon over city and forest is everywhere the same…
The rivers everywhere run down to the sea,
And the land everywhere takes life from the river…
Memory rich in song
The heart come home”

Home and the Heartland / Heartland

Scene 17

Always the child of the emigrant feels the tug of the home place; always that child feels the urge to return. What she or he brings there is a sustaining knowledge: we are who we once were, we are who we have become. With newfound confidence and pride, the child of the emigrant carries treasured memories home to their birthplace. A long journey ends under a native sky, a new and richer journey has taken its place.

Original Choreography: Michael Flatley, Colin Dunne, Jean Butler


We are one kind. We are one people now, our voices blended, our music a great world in which we can feel everywhere at home.
Ní neart go chur le chéile, together we are strong.