Riverdance romances have bloomed since the international Irish dancing phenomenon was introduced to the world 22 years ago.

Impresario John McColgan said yesterday the show had become a “love machine”: A total 120 members of the cast and crew had married and produced 92 babies.

More than 11,000  Riverdance performances have been seen by 25m people across six continents. The show is currently on a limited run at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.

Riverdance burst upon the stage during the interval of Eurovision in April 1994, when it was held at the Point in Dublin.

Husband and wife production team John McColgan and Moya Doherty expanded it into a stage show that opened in Dublin in February 1995.

It made a huge star of choreographer and principal dancer Michael Flatley, who went on to create his own show.

In a radio interview with RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey yesterday, Mr McColgan said he would not say he and Flatley were “pals” after all these years.

“He was with us for 13 weeks so he was with us for a short amount of time and both of us did not agree on how we should go forward or where artistic control lay,” he said. “So we parted the ways, which was best for him and, in a way, best for us because you could not rely on one name.”

Members of Riverdance perform at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, last month as part of the 24-hour danceathon in aid of The Irish Hospice Foundation. Pic: Jason Clarke
Members of Riverdance perform at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, last month as part of the 24-hour danceathon in aid of The Irish Hospice Foundation. Pic: Jason Clarke

Mr McColgan said they had a number of talented leads now so they were always “covered”.

Riverdance lead dancer and associate director Padraic Moyles married the production’s dance director, Niamh O’Connor, in 2008.

“I have been very, very, fortunate. The passion remains,” said Mr Moyles.

Romance is blossoming for Riverdance’s principal dancers, Natasia Petracic and Bobby Hodges.

Ms Petracic, who is from Sydney, auditioned online for the sister show, Heartbeat of Home, before joining Riverdance. Her sister, Gianna, is also a lead dancer in Riverdance.

“It has been a dream come true,” said Ms Petracic. I have no Irish blood. My parents are South American, and I was lucky that my dance school provided all forms of dancing.”

Her partner, both on-stage and off, is Bobby Hodges from Bristol, who became “addicted” to Riverdance when he was just four years old in 1994.

His mother took him to Irish dance classes and he went on to win 10 world Irish dancing titles.


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