independent

Monday 10 December 2018

Danced for Pope

Local dancers pictured outside Croke Park before their performance of Riverdance for Pope Francis
Local dancers pictured outside Croke Park before their performance of Riverdance for Pope Francis

Margaret Roddy

Dancers from two local Irish dancing schools had the memorable experience of dancing for Pope Francis during his recent visit to Ireland.

Pride of place went to Elliot Kwele from the McGee School of Irish dancing who joined the Riverdance cast as they performed routines from the world famous show on the stage of Croke Park. At just 13 years of age, he was the youngest member of the cast.

A group of 19 girls, aged 8 to 17 years, from the Dundalk based dance school were among the 500 dancers from all over Ireland who surrounded the pitch as the Riverdance troop danced to the iconic the 1984 Eurovision piece composed by Bill Whelan.

A further 30 dancers from the Darver based Cos Ceol Irish dancing school were among the vast assembly of dancers, singers and musicians who provide the entertainment for the 82,000 who filled Croke Park for the Festival of Families.

The Pontiff is reported to have smiled as he watched the young dancers.

This was one of the highlights the two-hour festival, which also included performances by Andre Bocelli, Daniel O'Donnell, and Nathan Carter.

'It was an absolutely fabulous experience for all the dancers,' said Dervla McGee.

She was particularly pleased that Elliot got the opportunity to dance on stage with the Riverdance cast.

'I actually danced with Riverdance in Croke Park years ago when the Special Olympics were held in Ireland,' she recalled. 'It was a highlight of my dancing career and I'm delighted that Elliot got to enjoy the same experience.'

Singers from Dundalk's Setanta Choir joined choirs from around the country who made up a 1,000 strong choir which performed at the concert, while music from CCE Dun Dealgan also entertained the audience.

The concert was watched by 1.8million viewers who tuned into RTE as well as millions more around the world.

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