"A joyous celebration of Irish Culture": Riverdance 25th Anniversary Review

Carly Horne delivers a glowing review of the Riverdance 25th Anniversary performance.

Carly Horne
14th October 2021
As was the case with many anticipated live shows set to hit the stage last year, Riverdance's 25th Anniversary Tour was impacted by the pandemic. This resulted in a number of the dates being postponed into 2021, and no doubt in disappointment, but as I sat in Newcastle's Utilita Arena last week to see the show myself, I saw nothing but pure joy radiating from the people around me.

When one thinks of Riverdance, the name Michael Flatley may come to mind. So this tour's male lead dancer, James Greenan, had some rather large shoes to fill. Greenan has been dancing the role for over 10 years, but Michael Flatley's association to Riverdance is long-standing.

But filling shoes is not James Greenan's prerogative, rather he made the role his own and it was a pleasure to finally catch a show with him as principal dancer.

Another notable mention goes to Amy-Mae Dolan whose energy (and smile) was boundless. As a world-class Irish dancer and part of the cast since 2016, Dolan was the perfect choice for this tour's female lead.

What has always been a show of an immense variety of disciplines was pleasantly filled with more this time around.

The musical cast was phenomenal, with the direction of Emma McPhilemy. Haley Richardson was an absolute treat on fiddle, and the evidence of how much she was enjoying herself was clear from my seat in block 105. On Uilleann Pipes was Tara Howley, the award-winning musician from Kilfenora further adding to the traditional brilliance of the show.

Later on, the show's setting took a break from Ireland to the streets of New York, where Irish dancers were engaged in a dance off with a duo of tap dancers. Kenji Igus and Tyler Knowlin were fantastic tappers with an impressive stamina and undoubtable skill.

Riverdance is a theatre classic, so the temptation to modernise might have been there- after all, it has been over 25 years since the original performance at the 1994 Eurovision Contest. That said, this 25th anniversary performance took everything that was fantastic about the Flatley-era of Riverdance and made it accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Riverdance is a joyous celebration of Irish culture which I recommend everyone enjoy at least once.

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  1. I went to see it in Glasgow on Thursday. It's a scaled back show but boy, did the cast dance their socks off! It was fantastic, thoroughly enjoyed it. That's one ticked off the bucket list.

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