Riverdance still jigging on 20 years after debut

Riverdance. Pic: Comp

Riverdance. Pic: Comp

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IT’S hard to believe that it’s two decades since Riverdance was first performed at the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin in 1994.

Seven months later in November 1994, the dancers were performing in front of Prince Charles; the Riverdance single, with music composed by Bill Whelan, was riding high in the UK charts and topped the Irish charts for 18 weeks – ironically passing on its way the Irish Eurovision winners of that year, Paul Harrinton and Charlie McGettigan’s Rock ’n’ Roll Kids.

Soon it was touring the world, performing in front of celebrities such as Princess Diana, Goldie Hawn and Madonna, as well as sell-out audiences of 18 million in 30 countries.

More than 1.5 billion have seen it on telly and more than seven million have it on video. It made Irish dancing profitable, sexy and controversial, and it spawned a host of other shows inspired by the artform – not least choreographer and original male lead Michael Flatley’s own Lord of the Dance.

This year, Riverdance marks its 20th anniversary, and you can catch the hugely-popular show at the Edinburgh Playhouse this week.

“The success of Riverdance across the whole world has gone beyond our wildest dreams,” said producer Moya Doherty.

“The fact that the show continues to draw and excite audiences is a tribute to every dancer, singer, musician, staff and crew member who have dedicated themselves to the show.”

Riverdance, Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, until Sunday, 8pm daily, Saturday and Sunday matinees, prices vary, 0844-871 3014