If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Riverdance yourself, you’ve probably at least heard of it—the traditional Irish dance show featuring a blend of Celtic and modern elements. While it may have started as an interval act in the 1990s for a Eurovision contest, it gained so much popularity and enthusiasm that Riverdance quickly grew to feature a staggering cast and large, sold-out shows. Today, Riverdance tours across the world. The performance, equipped with expert, quick-footed dancers and gorgeous set design, is more than just a music and dance exhibition. Those elements, plus the set, all blend together to tell a story of Irish heritage, history, change, loss and love. It evokes a feeling in the audience that is indescribable, a notion that’s different for every viewer.
This year, Riverdance celebrates its 25th anniversary with a tour (currently in the US!). We were lucky enough to speak with the show’s Associate Director, Padraic Moyles. Padraic is the former Lead Dancer and Dance Captain, having joined the show in 1997. Below, he gives us a peek behind the curtain as to what it takes to be in Riverdance and what it means to be a part of something so timeless.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I read in your biography that you’ve been dancing since a young age.
My family immigrated to the United States in the late 80s. I was around nine years old at the time. Of course, when you move away from home, the most important thing to you becomes your culture. My parents ensured we continued to play our Irish music and Irish dance and Gaelic football, all those things.
I started in show business—theater—when I was around 12. I was cast in a show called Grandchild of Kings, which was about the life of Seàn O’Casey, the Irish playwright, directed by Hal Prince, who is also the director of Phantom of the Opera. Hal gave me a masterclass in acting and directing—I didn’t know at the age of 12 that it would play a role in the rest of my life. Goes to show you the importance of teachers and mentors. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by some of the greats in the world, from Hal Prince to Bill Whelan to Donny Golden.