Tuesday Feb 9, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Riverdance

On this Day:

In 1995, the Irish music and dance show “Riverdance” first opened in Dublin, Ireland with lead dancer Michael Flatley.

Riverdance is a theatrical show consisting mainly of traditional Irish music and dance. With a score composed by Bill Whelan, it featured Irish dancing champions Jean Butler, Michael Flatley and the vocal ensemble Anúna. Riverdance was first performed during the seven-minute interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 30 April 1994. The performance was transmitted to an estimated 300 million viewers worldwide and earned a standing ovation from the packed theatre of 4,000 people. The performance is often considered the most well known interval act in Eurovision Song Contest history.

Shortly afterwards, husband and wife production team John McColgan and Moya Doherty expanded it into a stage show, which opened in Dublin on 9 February 1995. Since then, the show has visited over 450 venues worldwide and been seen by over 25 million people, making it one of the most successful dance productions in the world.

As one report put it, lead dancers Michael Flatley and Jean Butler “transformed the previously chaste and reserved traditional dance form into something else entirely”. 

“Riverdance: The Show” opened at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 9 February 1995. The five-week run was sold out within three days of the tickets going on sale, with tickets reaching record sales of over 120,000. In April 1995, video release of Riverdance went straight to No. 1 in the Irish charts.

On 8 May 1995, Riverdance performed at the Royal Gala 50th Anniversary of VE Day celebrations at the special invitation of Prince Charles. The show attracted a television audience of 20 million, introducing Riverdance to a whole new set of fans.

On 5 June 1995, UK video release of Riverdance went straight to the No. 2 position in the UK charts, moving to No. 1 the following week, and holding the No. 1 or No. 2 positions for the next seven months, becoming the all-time best-selling music video in the UK. A day later, Riverdance opened at The Apollo in London for a sell-out four-week run.

On 17 July 1995, Riverdance performed at London’s Royal College of Music in the presence of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, and Princess Margaret. Later that month, Riverdance returned, by popular demand, to the Point Theatre for a six-week sell-out run.

Riverdance continues to be performed all over the world, in a diminished format and in smaller venues. Current productions are geared towards smaller theatres, whereas past productions have been performed in large theatres and arenas. Sets have therefore been simplified and some numbers contain fewer performers than in past productions (such as those seen on the Live from New York City (1996) and Live from Geneva (2002) DVDs). Each production company is named after an Irish river: Liffey, Lee, Lagan, Avoca, Shannon, Boyne, Corrib, Foyle, Moy and Bann.

On 21 July 2013, a record was set when a line of 1,693 dancers from 44 countries danced to Riverdance on a bridge overlooking the River Liffey, led by Jean Butler and Padraic Moyles (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

I saw an Irish dancing show today called ‘Streamdance’. It’s not quite as good as ‘Riverdance’, but then it is only a tributary act.

Second, a Song:

Here is a video of a Riverdance performance from China. I believe it is from the Riverdance Live from Beijing show from 2010 starring  Ralph Cato, Wu Xiao Fang, Brioni Gallagher and others.  I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Whenever I hear, ‘It can’t be done,’ I know I’m close to success.” – Michael Flatley

Sandy Weams from Campbell River, BC, Canada writes in response to the Fountain Pen Smile:

“Thanks David,

The story of the pen is interesting. However I haven’t heard of Tangerine Dream in a long time. I used to also listen to Kraftwerk. David Bowie who I love was all influenced by Tangerine Dream when he lived in Berlin. 

What a blast from the past.” 


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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