After nearly 16 years of wowing American audiences with high-energy Irish step dancing, Riverdance doesn’t claim to be just another Irish dance troupe.
“It is the Irish dance show to see. If you think you’ve seen Irish dance before, think again,” said Padraic Moyles, one of the principal dancers, who got his start with Riverdance in 1997.
The performing company stops at Bell Auditorium on Feb. 17 on one of the last legs of its farewell tour. Tickets are $55-$65 from (877) 428-4849 or www.augustaentertainmentcomplex.com.
While other troupes will continue performing Riverdance tours on other continents, this is the last opportunity audiences have to see the internationally-acclaimed production in the U.S. The final performance is scheduled for June 17 in Vienna, Va.
“We’re going to go out on a high,” said Moyles, who plans to continue to dance with other Riverdance tours internationally.
The Dublin, Ireland, native has danced in the traditional Irish style since he was a 3-year-old, but said he never loved the art form until he saw a Riverdance performance.
“I was almost forced into Irish dancing by my parents,” he said. “It wasn’t something I loved to do.”
In 1996, when Moyles was 17, he watched one of Riverdance’s early performances shortly after its U.S. debut at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
“I got those chills up my back and said, ‘I’ve got to work hard, but I can do this,’ ” he said. A year later, he had joined the tour.
“There are no words to describe the experience,” Moyles said. “I’ve made so many friends. I met my wife. I’ve gotten to see the world. Riverdance really has given me a gift.”
Riverdance got its start as a seven-minute dance segment on the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest and then quickly became a full-scale production. Today, Riverdance has been seen by more than 22 million people at 10,000 performances in 40 countries across four continents.
The show, in many ways, is responsible for bringing Irish dance into the mainstream, Moyles said.
“It’s almost become another name for Irish dancing,” he said. “They’ve completely changed the culture and almost renamed the dance.”
He thinks their success is due, in part, to the unique combination of traditional dance and modern theatrics.
“We continue to push the boundaries with Irish dancing,” Moyles said. “We want it that much sharper, that much more athletic. We want it to be the best show you’ve ever seen.”