The UK will have a double dose of Irish dancing over the coming months: this week, Michael Flatley launches a new six-month tour of his Lord of the Dance as, Riverdance, the show that originally made his name, confirms a new tour for next spring, just two years after what were meant to be its “last-ever” UK dates (See News, 21 Oct 2004).

Flatley appeared on stage himself earlier this year in his new show Celtic Tiger, which toured to six UK venues (See News, 18 Nov 2005). The dancer first shot to fame with Riverdance, which started off as part of the Eurovision Song Contest’s interval feature when the contest was held in Dublin in 1994. He then went on to create Lord of the Dance, his own major full-length show, which received international acclaim.

Flatley has choreographed and directed Lord of the Dance, which marks its tenth anniversary with the current UK tour. Opened last night (2 October 2006) at the Manchester Opera House, the production continues to Bristol, Nottingham, Oxford, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Croydon, Plymouth, Birmingham, Bradford, Poole, Brighton, Southend, Blackpool and Cardiff.

Composed by Bill Whelan and directed by John McColgan, Riverdance is the creation of Moya Doherty, who originally developed it as the seven-minute interval for the Eurovision Song Contest.

The full-length stage show opened in Dublin in February 1995 and has since been experienced live by over 19 million people worldwide. There have been over 9,000 performances in over 260 venues worldwide, throughout 32 countries across four continents. In February 1997 the album won a Grammy Award as “Best Musical Show Album”. The worldwide television audience to date is in excess of 1.75 billion people.

Still one of the biggest dance shows in the world, Riverdance features over 80 performers, including Russian folk dancers, American tappers and Spanish flamenco artists, along with the core Irish dancers, singers and musicians.

The new UK tour opens on 9 April 2007 at Manchester’s Palace Theatre and then visits Glasgow, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Ipswich, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Sunderland, Birmingham, Oxford, Bristol and Plymouth, where it concludes on 1 July 2007.

- by Terri Paddock