Dancers set record for largest Riverdance performance
Dance troupe from 44 countries gather in snaking line along River Liffey
Some of the 1,693 Irish dancers including members of the current Riverdance troupe along the banks of the River Liffey during their successfull Guinness World Record attempt for the most number dancers performing Riverdance at the one time. The dancers lined the North and South Quays while also crossing the Samuel Beckett Bridge. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Jean Butler and Padraic Moyles lead the cast of Riverdance on Dublin’s Samuel Beckett Bridge during the world record attempt for the longest line of Irish dancers. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
After a quick wave to dancers on the Liffey’s north bank Riverdance’s Jean Butler was off hopping once again as she led more than 1,600 Irish dancer’s from 44 different countries to a Guinness World Record in Dublin this afternoon.
The event shook the capital, literally. Once the opening bars of Bill Whelan’s now world renowned Riverdance song kicked in and the dancers started tapping the Samuel Beckett Bridge began to bounce like a trampoline.
“Dancers need a sprung floor,” Butler said after the event. “And this is the most sprung of a floor I’ve ever danced on.”
Leading the way alongside Butler was Padraic Moyles, a Riverdance member for more than a decade, who said the experience was the highlight of his career.
“There’s no better fit than riverdance and the Gathering,” he said after signing autographs and posing for photos with wide-eyed fans.
“It’s just so fitting that we have the world record here in Dublin, along the banks of the river Liffey, where Riverdance originally started back in 1994,” he said.
“It’s amazing what this small country can do, isn’t it? ... Through our poets, our playwrights, our musicians and our dancers we’ve gone to all four corners of the world and we spread a positive message all the time.
“It should be something that we’re all extremely proud of,” he said.
With hands joined together in a circle that ran from the Samuel Beckett Bridge along both banks of the Liffey up to the Sean O’Casey Bridge, members of more than 160 different Irish dance schools throughout the world danced for five minutes straight.
And then they did it all over again ten minutes later, in order to ensure that the old record, of 652 held by Nashville in Tennessee, was officially broken.
While the sun had been shining non-stop all week and temperatures reached 30 degrees in some parts, today it stayed firmly behind the clouds. Riverdance producer, Moya Doherty, was glad temperatertures stayed low by recent standards “so that the dancers [didn’t] have to be picked up off the ground”.
“Just standing on this iconic bridge... and feeling the pulsation of the dancers is extraordinary,” she said. “[I’ve] met people from Russia, Seattle... Australia so it is quite the gathering, it’s very moving.”
Director of Riverdance, John McColgan, said the talent on display was “truly remarkable” and “proof, if we needed it, of the enormous affection that exists for Irish dance and Riverdance”.
Project Director of the Gathering Ireland, Jim Miley, said the event connected people from countries all over the world “in an authentic way that’s deep rooted in Irish culture” and the event was likely to be one of the highlights of the Gathering.
Families from counties throughout Ireland also participated in the event, including the Kilmartins from Laois. “It was brilliant” said 10-year old Ava who said she wasn’t nervous about dancing on the bridge. Conor, her older brother who had been practicing hard during the weeks leading up to the event, said it was “fantastic” to now be a world record holder. 16-year-old Katie, the eldest of the three siblings, said Irish dancing was her passion and the entire experience was “amazing”.
Thousands lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the dancing brilliance on display while dozens more gazed on from boats in the Liffey. It seems that the powerful celtic original which united and delighted audiences 19 years ago hasn’t, in any way, lost its ability to captivate audiences the world over.