Riverdance and its effect on Irish Dancing and the World Championships

World championships irish dancing 2017
World Irish Dance figure Champions 2017

IMPORTANT UPDATE : Griffin Lynch dance school won the World Championship Figure Dance competition. Here is the video. You might recognise the music too! Congratulations girls, parents and teachers. Well deserved!

In my last post I talked about how Irish dancing grows as a sport due to a number of factors including the effect of Riverdance. Although Irish dancing was considered a form of dancing, it had become tired and old fashioned. The discipline of holding ones arms against ones body seemed restrictive and not sensual like other dances. When Riverdance was aired, it made Irish dancing look exciting and sexy and something different. The dancers used more of their body but still concentrated on the magnificent footwork needed to create that rhythm.

This type of dancing encouraged a new group of young dancers from many countries across the world to take up the sport and the World Championships have grown and continue to grow as a result. It would be great to see this international competition get the spotlight it deserves. I would urge all TV production companies to look at televising this next year. It’s about time!

As the World Championships come to a close on 17th April, I thought I would post some facts, photos and videos about this phenomenon. And a big congratulations to all the winners and competitors at this year’s Worlds including the Griffin Lynch figure team and ceilli team, Mairéad Trainor and Julia O’Rourke.

Irish dancing ceili team
Top 20 ceil team winners! Griffin Lynch dancers.

Facts about Riverdance

  1. Riverdance was first aired in 1994 during the interval of the Eurovision Song contest.
  2. It has been seen by over 25 million people in over 465 venues worldwide.
  3. The show has played in 46 countries across six continents.
  4. The show has travelled 700,000 miles (or to the moon and back and back again!)
  5. Jean Butler’s legs were so prized they were insured for IR£1 million.
  6. The Grammy Award-winning CD has sold over 3 million copies.
  7. The DVD has sold over 10 million copies.
  8. The show has played to a global television audience of three billion people.
  9. In 2013 1,693 Irish dancers gathered to break the World Record for the Longest Riverdance Line of Dancers. The dancers, who came from 44 different countries for the occassion, performed along the banks of the River Liffey.
  10. There have been many interpretations of Riverdance including this one by Beyonce.

There have been…

  • 1,500 Irish dancers
  • 14,000 dance shoes used
  • 12,000 costumes worn
  • 1,650,000 show programmes sold
  • 39 marriages between company members


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