Riverdance
Frequently Asked Questions

1) How did Riverdance begin ?
2) How long is the show ?
3) How many companies are they ?
4) What became of Michael Flatley ?
5) What became of Jean Butler ?
6) What became of Colin Dunne ?
7) What became of Anuna ?
8) What is the story of the show ? Is there a reason for having all
these international artists involved in an irish dance show ?
9) Why is the main number called Riverdance ?
10) What is the name of that curious instrument that looks like a
bagpipe ?
11) How many videos have been produced ?
12) How many cds have been produced ?
13) Is the sheet music of the show available ?
14) What do these gaelic phrases mean: A Stoirin A gra;
Uisce Beatha; Caoineadh Cu Chulain; Oscail an Doras ?
15) Is there a translation of the song Shivna ?
16) On the first video, with Michael Flatley, there are three black tap
dancers who appear during the finale, but nowhere else. What's the deal
with that ?
17) When will Riverdance come to my town/country ?

1)  How did Riverdance begin ?
In 1993, having won the Eurovision Song Contest, Ireland, and the RTE
(Radio Telefis Ireland, Ireland's public radio and television network)
had to organize the 1994 Contest in Dublin. Producer Moya Doherty was
given the task of  producing the show. An act had to be prepared for the
interval, while the various national juries voted. She had the idea of
putting together two American born traditional Irish dancers, Michael
Flatley and Jean Butler, together with the choir Anuna and twenty
traditional Irish dancers, to choreograph an Irish dance number for the
interval. Composed by Bill Whelan, this number, called Riverdance, was
so successful (it sold more copies than the song who won the Contest
this year), that it was decided to expend it as a stage show. The show
opened in Dublin in 1995, and the rest is history.

2)  How long is the show ?
The show last for two hours and an half, including the intermission.

3)  How many companies are they ?
Right now, there are three companies. The Liffey Company (principal
dancers Breandan de Gallai and Joanne Doyle) tours Europe and Asia. The
Lagan Company (principal dancers Michael Patrick Gallagher and Niamh
Roddy) tours North America. The Shannon Company (principal dancers Pat
Roddy and Eileen Martin), which has replaced the former Lee Company
(which also toured North America) will open on Broadway in March 2000.

4)  What became of Michael Flatley ?
Due to creative differences with the producers of Riverdance, Michael
Flatley was fired in october 1995. He went on to produce his own
successful dance show, Lord of the Dance. He's now preparing a tour of
the latest version of this show, called Feet of Flames, which should
start in Germany very soon.

5)  What became of Jean Butler ?
Jean Butler has left Riverdance in 1997 to pursue a career in acting.
She has appeared in a movie called The Brylcreem Boys, hosted the Famine
Memorial, and is now starring in her own dance show, Dancing on
Dangerous Ground
, which, after a run at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in
London, is due to open on Broadway, at the Radio City Music Hall in
March 2000.

6)  What became of Colin Dunne ?
Colin Dunne has left Riverdance  in 1998. Since then, he has worked on
his autobiography, worked on Eileen Ivers new record, Crossing the
Bridge (his taps, and Tarik Winston's, can be heard on the title track),
and is now co-starring with Jean Butler in Dancing on Dangerous Ground.

7)  What became of Anuna ?
The famous choir has left Riverdance (although a few of its members have
stayed with the show), and is still doing concerts all over the world,
as well as records (they have recently worked with the Chieftains on The
Long Journey Home and Tears of Stone)

8)  What is the story of the show ? Is there a reason for having all
these international artists involved in an irish dance show ?
The story of the show is the story of the journey of the Irish people,
from the settling of Ireland to their departure to the new world, in
which they met with other cultures. The first act deals with their
settling of the land, and the various legends which appeared in that
period, while the second act deals with their departure from their
island, their arrival in the New World, and their meeting of other
cultures, with which they interacted.

9)  Why is the main number called Riverdance ?
Because it is based on the life of a river. It begins quietly, with the
Cloudsong sung by the choir, then flows as a stream, represented by the
soft shoe Dance of the Riverwoman, meeting and awakening the land,
represented by the hard shoe solo of Earthrise, before growing and
growing until it throws itself into the sea (Riverdance).

10) What is the name of that curious instrument that looks like a
bagpipe ?
It's called a Uillean Pipe. Instead of blowing air inside the bag with
the mouth, you use a bellow. Masters of this instrument feature Davy
Spillane, Liam O'Flynn, and Paddy Moloney from the Chieftains. Records
in which you can find this instrument include the soundtracks of
Braveheart and Titanic.

11) How many videos have been produced ?
Two videos have been produced. The first one, called Riverdance : The
Show
, and filmed at the Point Dépôt in Dublin, features the show as it
was originally, with Michael Flatley and Jean Butler. The second video,
called Riverdance : The New Show, or Riverdance : Live From Radio City
Music Hall
, filmed in 1996 in New York, features the show as it is
today, more or less, with Colin Dunne and Jean Butler, as well as the
new numbers that were added in 1995. This video is available in all
format (PAL, SECAM and NTSC), as well as on DVDA documentary, called
Riverdance : A Journey, tells the story of the show from its beginning
at the Eurovision Song Contest till its triumphant opening at the Radio
City Music Hall in New York. This documentary is part of the Riverdance
DVD.

12) How many cds have been produced ?
Three cds have been produced. The first one featured the following
tracks :
1)  Reel Around the Sun
2)  The Heart's Cry
3)  The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe
4)  Firedance
5)  Caoineadh Cu Chulainn
6)  Slip Into Spring
7)  Riverdance
8)  Lift the Wings
9)  Freedom
10)  Andalucia
11)  Macedonian Morning
12)  Marta's Dance/The Russian Dervish
13)  Hope to the Suffering

On this cd, there was no taps on any of the tracks, and Anuna,
unavailable at the time, was replaced by the choir SeoltaThe second one
feaured the following tracks
1)  Reel Around the Sun
2)  The Heart's Cry
3)  The Countess Cathleen/Women of the Sidhe
4)  Caoineadh Cu Chulainn
5)  Shivna
6)  Firedance
7)  Slip into Spring
8)  Riverdance
9)  American Wake
10)  Lift the Wings
11)  Macedonian Morning
12)  Marta's Dance/The Russian Dervish
13)  Andalucia
14)  Home and the Heartland
15)  The Harvest
16)  Riverdance (dance remix)

Tracks 1, 3 and 16 features the taps of Michael Flatley, jean Butler and
the Riverdance troupe. And the songs are sung by Anuna. The third
version of the cd is similar to the second one, except for track 16,
which has been replaced by a Riverdance remix, without taps.

13) Is the sheet music of the show available ?
Yes, it is. Published in 1998 by Amsco, and called Riverdance : The
Music
, it features all the tracks of the show as it is now, and is
available in every good music store. Another book of interest is
Riverdance : The Story, by Sam Smyth, which tells the story of the show
from its beginning, and is available in all bookstores.

14) What do these gaelic phrases mean:
A Stoirin A gra: My Treasure, My love
Uisce Beatha: Water of life (interesting aside: that's where the word Whiskey comes from :-) )
Caoineadh Cu Chulain: Lament for Cuchulan (a heroe of ancinet times in Ireland)
Oscail an Doras: Open the Doors

15) Is there a translation of the song Shivna?
Unfortunately not. The song is an old gaelic poem about an irish
chieftain who was cursed by a bishop to roam the woods of Ireland with
an old crone. The verses are in old gaelic, and the people who have
to translate it have given up, due to the difficulty of the task.

16) On the first video, with Michael Flatley, there are three black tap
dancers who appear during the finale, but nowhere else. What's the deal
with that ?
It means that you have the American release of the first video, in which
five numbers, which are on the European version, have been cut. These
numbers are : Harlem to Hollywood (a tap number featuring only three
black American tap dancers) ; Andalucia (a flamenco number featuring
Maria Pages) ; Macedonia Morning (an orchestral piece preceding the
Russian dance number) ; Hope to the Suffering (a gospel song sung by the
Deliverance Ensemble) ; and a flute solo in which Michael Flatley plays
An Chuifhionn (later the basis for Whispering Winds in Feet of Flames)
and the Mason's Apron. No reason has been given for these cuts. You can
still order the complete version of the video at the RTE site.

17) When will Riverdance come to my town/country ?
Check the tour dates on this fine site regularly. You will find the most
accurate tour dates list available anywhere on the web

FAQ compiled by Gérard Morvan


Information featured on this page appears courtesy of Gérard Morvan.
This Celtic Cafe content is in no way affiliated with the official Riverdance website.