Irish dancers and choreographers Jean Butler and Michael Flatley on their influences and the impact of 'Riverdance' on their lives.

Riverdance’ originated as an interval act during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.  Principal dancers Jean Butler and Michel Flatley will be performing the seven-minute act with the full troupe at the prestigious Royal Variety Performance in London. 

Michael Flatley was born in Chicago to Irish parents. Jean Butler is from Long Island, New York and her mother is Irish. Jean started Irish dancing when she was four or five years old but Michael only started dancing at the age of 11.

The duo are rehearsing 14 hours a day for the opening of ‘Riverdance’ a theatrical show which will open in The Point  on 9 February 1995 for a 20 night run.

Alongside Jean Butler and Michael Flatley the show will feature the vocal ensemble Anúna, flamenco dancer María Pagés, a Russian dance troupe and an American gospel choir.

What we’re trying to do with the show is bring a very new feel to contemporary Irish dancing.

The full show will be,

On the same line as ‘Riverdance’ with the love, sexy Irish dancing theme.

Jean Butler’s style of dancing is full of expression, personality and character and her passion for the dance comes from teacher Donny Golden. Her use of head and arm movements has transformed traditionally stiff and formal Irish dance.

Michael Flatley says support and encouragement from the Irish traditional music band The Chieftains helped him to develop his individual style of dance, and give him a platform.

At the time of the Eurovision performance, Jean Butler was studying for her finals at university and had plans to be an actor. For Michael Flatley Riverdance has had a major impact.

It has made a tremendous difference to my life.

This episode of ‘The Late Late Show’ was broadcast on 25 November 1994. The presenter is Gay Byrne.