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The 20th Anniversary Tour of Riverdance Will Burn Up the DPAC Stage on June 7-12

<em>Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour</em> plays DPAC on June 7-12 (photo by Jack Hartin)

Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour plays DPAC on June 7-12 (photo by Jack Hartin)

The Durham Performing Arts Center will present Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour on June 7-12 as a season add-on. This thunderous celebration of Irish music, song, and dance first tapped its way onto the world stage in February 1995 as a seven-minute segment during an interval in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Subsequently expanded into a full-length stage presentation by the husband-and-wife team of director John McColgan and producer Moya Doherty and composer and lyricist Bill Whelan, Riverdance has thrilled millions of people around the globe for 21 years with its invigorating mash-up of chapters of Irish myth and history, retold mainly in voiceover introductions of a lively potpourri of traditional Irish song and dance — particularly stepdancing — and leavened with memorable vignettes from the Irish-American immigrant experience. Some fiery Spanish flamenco dances and exuberant Russian folk ballet are also thrown in to make this show a true melting-pot musical, with a lively 1997 Grammy Award®-winning score.

According to DPAC, the show has “played 11,000 performances [since 1995]; been seen live by over 25 million people in over 467 venues worldwide, throughout 46 countries and 6 continents; travelled 700,000 miles (or to the moon and back and back again!); played to a global television audience of 3 billion people; sold over 3 million copies of the Grammy Award-winning CD; [and] sold 10 million Riverdance videos and DVDs….”

The 20th anniversary world tour kicked off two years of North American engagements on Sept. 28, 2015 in Canada at the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It will showcase “… new costumes, new lighting, new projections and the addition of a brand-new number, ‘Anna Livia,’ featuring the female members of the Irish dance troupe in an acapella hard-shoe number,” according to DPAC.

DPAC also quotes Riverdance producer Moya Doherty as saying: “The success of Riverdance across the whole world has gone beyond our wildest dreams. The fact that the show continues to draw and excite audiences is a tribute to every dancer, singer, musician, staff, and crew member who have dedicated themselves to the show. This 20th Anniversary Tour is a thank you to our audiences and a celebration of what has been an incredible journey across two decades.”

According to the show’s official website, “Celebrating an extraordinary milestone for an incredible show, Riverdance will perform in over 75 U.S. cities during the 2016 and 2017 seasons.” The tour will feature set design by Robert Ballagh, lighting design by John Comiskey, costume design by Joan Bergin, and sound design by Michael O’Gorman.

Seattle native Julia Gats is a lead dancer on <em>Riverdance's</em> 2015-17 20th anniversary North American tour

Seattle native Julia Gats is a lead dancer on Riverdance’s 20th anniversary North American tour

Riverdance is still very relevant after touring for over 20 years, because the music is so compelling,” says lead dancer Julia Gats. “Even as costumes, dances, and sets change, Bill Whelan’s original music is timeless and keeps audiences coming back time after time.”

She adds, “My favorite new addition to the show is a powerful new number, featuring the female lead and troupe, ‘Anna Livia,’ highlighting their strong rhythm.”

Gats, who was born in August of 1993 in Seattle, WA and has lived there all her life, says, “Riverdance is the first professional show I have been a part of, so I feel very honored to have started my career on the 20th anniversary of the show….

“I auditioned for Riverdance during the summer of 2014,” says Gats, “and began my training a month later in Dublin. That fall, I went out on my first tour, which included many cities throughout the U.K. and Switzerland….

“I am currently a member of the female Irish troupe,” says Julia Gats. “I also recently performed my first show as the female lead, which is a new and exciting challenge for me.”

The 22-year-old dancer says, “I was educated in Seattle, then attended college for two years at Gonzaga University [in Spokane, WA] before joining Riverdance. My dance school, taught by Sara Raney Williams, Julie Raney, and Erin Raney, is called Tara Academy [of Irish Dance] and is located in Seattle…. When I am not on tour, I go home to Seattle.”

In his review of the 20th anniversary production of Riverdance for the Edinburgh Evening News, Barry Gordon wrote, in part: “…[I]n the two decades since Riverdance came clacking into the universe, it’s evolved to include other dance disciplines, as well as a healthy dose of humour and showboating, too. If we weren’t jigging around Dublin’s Liffey River, we were tap-dancing our way across the New York Hudson, or snapping the Caracas on the plains of Spain…. As for the flaws? Well, there simply aren’t any. Here’s to another 20 years.”

<em>Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour</em> plays DPAC on June 7-12 (photo by Jack Hartin)

Riverdance: The 20th Anniversary World Tour plays DPAC on June 7-12 (photo by Jack Hartin)

SECOND OPINION: June 4th Fayetteville, NC Fayetteville Observer preview by Brooke Carbo:; and June 2nd Durham, NC Herald-Sun preview by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: (Note: You must subscribe to read this article).

The Durham Performing Arts Center presents RIVERDANCE: THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY WORLD TOUR at 7:30 p.m. June 7-9, 8 p.m. June 10, 2 and 8 p.m. June 11, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. June 12 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.

TICKETS: $25 and up. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.


DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787),, or

Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587,, or

SHOW: and










Riverdance (1995 “celebration of Irish dance, music and culture”): (official website), (Internet Broadway Database), (Internet Movie Database), (Facebook page), (Twitter page), (Wikipedia), and (YouTube Channel).

Julia Gats (lead dancer): (tour bio), (Facebook page), and (Twitter page).


Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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Categorised in: Features, Lead Story, Theatre Feature