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Riverdance – Belfast from 19th – 23rd

Riverdance the 25th Anniversary show returns to Dublin’s 3 Arena on the 7th, 8th and 9th, some matinee shows available, if you miss the Dublin shows you can catch it at the SSE Arena Belfast from the 19th to the 23rd too.

Still some tickets left but you would want to be fast – Click Here

Looking Back

On 30th April 1994 Riverdance was performed for the very first time in the Point Depot, at the halfway point of the Eurovision Song Contest. The act was introduced by Sir Terry Wogan, lasted for 7 minutes, and went off without a hitch. It was the first interval act that directly aimed to create a spectacle and ‘show off’, rather than just fill in the time while votes were counted up, and it set a precedent for every contest since then. The finale of 24 dancers, their chorus of tapping feet and completely simultaneous movements, the crescendo of music and the final triumphant poses of Flatley and Butler led to a standing ovation from every single person in the arena and cheers from every household in Ireland. Everyone was talking about the interval act rather than the contest itself, which sadly may have overshadowed Ireland’s third consecutive victory! Even days afterwards the act was still receiving rave reviews from all over the world, and the producers jumped on the opportunity and decided to make a full stage show from the simple 7 minute act.

Millions of people around the world have seen Riverdance first hand, and many many more have seen it on television, online or have at the very least heard about it. What started out as a Eurovision Song Contest interval act has now become what is definitely the most popular and probably the longest running Irish performance act in history.

The Origins of Riverdance

As almost everyone knows, Riverdance was conceived as the interval act for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Ireland has a long history of success in the contest, having entered competitors every year since 1965 except for two occasions. We have won it seven times in total, more than any other country, and up until recently our acts regularly placed in the top 5 or 10. While nowadays it is sometimes viewed as ‘trash TV’ and not taken very seriously by most, up until recently it was still considered a prestigious international musical competition. In 1994, Ireland was enjoying two wins in a row and hoping for a third (which they achieved). The country was hosting the competition for the sixth time. In other areas we were enjoying phenomenal success too; the national football team had reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1990, the economy was booming, the problems in the North were almost at a tentative peaceful resolution, and people all over the world were starting to sit up and take notice of Ireland. For that reason and many more, Irish organisers of that year’s Eurovision knew they had to pull out all the stops.

Riverdance was inspired by a previous interval act that was performed during the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, which was also hosted by Ireland that year. The act was called ‘Timedance’, which was a three-sectioned piece featuring traditional Baroque-influenced music and ballet dancing. The composers were Bill Whelan and Donal Lunny and the music was performed by Irish folk rock band Planxty. For the 1994 act Bill Whelan was at the helm again, and decided to go bigger, better, and back to Ireland’s roots. He composed a score filled with fiddles, drums, and haunting vocals – the only natural accompaniment could be some traditional Irish dancing. It was set to showcase Ireland’s rich culture to the world, add a huge boost to Irish pride, and leave the 300 million people watching the Eurovision gobsmacked.


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