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Riverdance gala Dublin performance marks 25 years since first show

The Irish dancing phenomenon has toured the world for a quarter of a century.

Riverdance has marked the 25th anniversary of its first ever show with a gala performance at the venue where it all began.

The Irish dancing phenomenon first appeared as the interval act at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin to great acclaim, and was then developed into a full show that made its debut on February 9 1995 at The Point Theatre before going on to tour the world.

Riverdance, which has played to more than 25 million people, celebrated a quarter of a century by going back to where the show started, now the 3Arena, in the Irish capital.

Sunday’s show took place exactly 25 years to the night Riverdance opened, marking a significant and defining moment in Irish culture.

The gala performance came at the end of a four-day run at the 3Arena, which has a seating capacity of 9,000.

To celebrate the milestone, the show’s composer, Bill Whelan, re-recorded his Grammy Award-winning soundtrack, while producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan have updated the show with new lighting, projection, stage and costume designs.

The Riverdance troupe performing at 3Arena in Dublin on Thursday night (Jack Hartin/Riverdance/PA)

Ms Doherty described the return to the show’s birthplace as “an exciting and reflective moment”, adding: “It is said that travel broadens the mind.

“The global journey which Riverdance took us on since 1995 is one which would change not just our lives but the global understanding of the culture and imagination of Ireland.

“The reaction of audiences witnessing this new expression of Ireland meant that the world and especially the Irish diaspora was seeing a new writing of Ireland, one sculpted from traditional dance and music forms which could be celebrated, lauded and voiced as it should be.

“Often the culture we love finds a way to speak us and it is a privilege to have been that voice.”

The production’s troupe of dancers and musicians includes many who were not born until after the show’s initial rise to fame.

The anniversary show pays tribute to its former stars, including Michael Flatley and Jean Butler, in a montage of old clips before the new cast take to the stage.

The Riverdance troupe lined out for a show in Dublin (Jack Hartin/Riverdance/PA)

Since Riverdance began, there have been more than 11,500 performances in 515 venues worldwide featuring 2,000 performers from 29 countries.

The Queen, Pope Francis and former US first lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Malia and Sasha, are among those who have seen it performed.

After the Dublin run, Riverdance will do a string of shows in Belfast from February 19, before embarking on a UK tour which will begin in Bournemouth on March 10 and go on to visit towns and cities including Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff and London.

There is also a Riverdance troupe currently touring the US, with a run of shows in March at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

PA Media