This two-hour dance and music extravaganza contains a wealth of Irish talent. The show is an inspiring epic, reliving the journey of the Irish Celts throughout history. Using modern art forms of dance and music, this richly costumed show marries the contemporary and the ancient. Combining traditional dance and music with the most up to date stage technology, the show is a thousand year old story executed with all the advantages of the modern day stage show. Rhythm of the Dance has heralded a new era in Irish entertainment, internationally rated as one of the most popular and busiest Irish step dance shows in the world. Rhythm of the Dance aspires to a purity content preserving the traditions of Irish step dancing and yet presenting it in the most modern format that has made it a leader in its field. The show features a live band, three tenors & some 22 dancers. Be sure to experience Rhythm of the Dance when it performs in a venue near you. You'll be very glad you did! 4.5 million fans can't be wrong!!
Origins of the Show
From the creation of Rhythm of the Dance in 1998 (initially the show was set up for a 3 week tour of the United States) it has toured consistently internationally and is achieving greater critical acclaim year after year.
This wonderful show continues to evolve thanks to the constant striving for perfection by its Director/Producer, choreographer and composer to keep the show fresh and interesting so that audiences who attend performances regularly will always find some new and exciting elements within the programme.
With a wonderful, gifted young cast of dancers, musicians and 3 Irish tenors, featuring live performances from the entire troupe, this is a show that has won critical acclaim across 4 continents of the world in 36 countries to over 7 million fans. And now after 17 Years of showcasing the very best in Irish dance to the world, the show has undergone a process of renewal, re-invigerating the choreography and music to create an even more spectacular performance. Producer Kieran Cavanagh is very excited about the updated format of the show, he hopes that Rhythm of the Dance will be a breathe of fresh air into Irish dance with this traditionally rooted and authentic production.
China Shenzhen City Eve of the new Millennium
EARTH DOME, with a live audience the show was beamed to over 750 million viewers on syndicated National Television.
Voted Best Irish Dance Show, presentation of the award to Kieran Cavanagh Director/Producer ROTD was made by actors Stephanie Powers (Hart to Hart) and Michael York. (Kieran and the shows lead dancers flew to Poland from an Australian tour to accept the award and immediately afterwards returned to Oz to continue the tour).
France, Paris 2003
Palais de Congress sold out for Rhythm of the Dance.
Bangalore National Park, Rhythm of the Dance performed to an audience of 10,000 people for a benefit concert in aid of Mother Theresa Orphanage there.
By invitation of the Greek Government Rhythm of the Dance performed in the Acropolis, Athens to an audience of 5,000 people.
Kremlin Palace Theatre, Rhythm of the Dance performed daily concerts for one week
Dollywood, Tennessee, USA 2007, 2008 and 2015
Rhythm of the Dance were honored with full houses for the entire run in Dolly Parton’s theme park. But the day in 2007 that Dolly and Rhythm of the Dance performed together to an invited audience of 1,000 media journalists was the most memorable event of our stay. Dolly sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” with Rhythm of the Dance’s own 3 Irish tenors and along with Rhythm’s cast of dancers Dolly performed a rousing version of her own composition“We Irish”. It brought the house down!
10TH Anniversary World Tour. 2009-2010
2009 began the 10th anniversary world tour of Rhythm of the Dance, playing over 250 venues in 17 countries, meeting with high praise from fans and supporters at every stop along the way.
Rhythm of the Dance sells out the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
It was a massive honour to be allowed to play this historic and symbolic venue, and a massive delight to have entertained and enthralled the capacity audience.
In 2011 Rhythm recorded a feature length special for PBS in the USA. Recorded on stage in Amsterdam and on location at some of Irelands’ most scenic and magical locations.
15TH Anniversary World Tour. 2014-2015
Rhythm of the Dance embarked on an expansive tour to celebrate the 15th year of performing our show, playing to packed houses and delighted audiences across North America and Europe.
Closing Ceremony of inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan.
Rhythm of the Dance had the great honor to perform at the closing ceremony of the first ever European Summer Games in Baku Azerbaijan 2015.
News & Updates
Rhythm of the Dance's latest Tour is attracting rave reviews, to read what the reviewers have to say [CLICK HERE]
Performed by The National Dance Company of Ireland, this incredible, highly-professional show saw fans gasping and shouting out in awe - while clapping and stomping their feet along to the music in true Celtic style throughout the two-hour performance.
Rhythm of the Dance break new ground with PBS Special.
Spectacular! Stirring! Sweeping! Stunning! Sensational!
These are words television viewers, critics, and Public Television Affiliates alike, are expressing after recently viewing the new 2013 television pledge special, “Rhythm of the Dance” – now airing exclusively on Public Television in the United States.
Taking over two years to film and produce the ambitious project, Winmill Films, a California-based production company, travelled far and wide throughout the Emerald Isle, capturing live dance performances at rarely seen locales and historic sights. Shooting at over thirty-eight scenic locations, this stunning television special premiered on St. Patrick’s Day in dozens of major cities as a two-hour prime time Pledge Special for Public Television. Additional multi-camera video production also captured the live energy of the international stage show, at the Theater de Tamboer in Amsterdam! Both the locations and stage footage were combined and woven into a mesmerizing visual one-hour show.
of Irish Step Dance
The history of Irish dance started when the Celts arrived in Ireland from central Europe over two thousand years ago. Bringing with them their individual styles of dances and music.
There are vague references to the early history of Irish dancing but evidence shows that its first participants were the Druids. They danced in religious rituals honoring their pagan gods. Around 400 A.D., after the conversion to Christianity, the new priests adopted the pagan style of art in creating their beautiful manuscripts, and the peasants kept the pagan style of music and dancing.
The circle dances of today began after the Anglo-Norman conquest in the twelfth century. The Carol was a popular Norman dance where the leader sang and a circle of dancers replied with the same song.
Three Irish dances are often referenced from the sixteenth century: the Irish Hey, the Rinnce Fada and the Trenchmore. One of the first mentions to dance was in a letter written to Queen Elizabeth I in 1569 in which the dancers were described as being very beautiful and magnificently dressed first class dancers.
During the mid-sixteenth century, dancers performed in the great halls of newly built castles, and some of the dances were brought to the court of Queen Elizabeth. The Trenchmore was an adaptation of an old Irish peasant dance, and the Hey was a predecessor of the present day reel. Irish dancing was accompanied by the music of the bagpipes and the harp.
The dancing master appeared in Ireland in the eighteenth century. He would wander from village to village to teach dance to peasants. Each dancing master had his own district and never trespassed into another master’s domain. When they met at fairs, they challenged each other to dancing competitions that ended only when one group was left standing.
Each master had his own style, so several versions of the same dance would be found in different areas of Ireland. Over the centuries, Irish dances were modified into the jigs, reels, hornpipes, sets, half sets and polkas performed today. Solo dancing, or step dancing, first appeared at the end of the eighteenth century.
There are dancing competitions in all four Irish provinces and winners qualify for the All Ireland Championships. The international competitions are held in Dublin at Easter and the dancers from other countries compete for the world title. The success of Riverdance , Lord of the Dance and Rhythm of the dance has placed Irish Dance on the international stage. Dancing schools in Ireland and all over the world today are filled with youngsters imitating the dancing styles which
Most women in Ireland, until over a century ago, would have danced barefoot; which gave them a natural grace and lightness which today’s dancers strive to maintain. Girls began wearing softshoes, known as ghillies, in 1924 while dancing jigs, reels, and slip jigs. Men worked on the land, and therefor wore hand-made rawhide shoes which were light and suitable for dancing. Fishermen on the coasts of Ireland wore wooden soled shoes, and when teaching traditional music was outlawed, the rhythms of the various dance tunes were maintained by tapping the hard shoes on the flag stones and tiles.
Today’s modern Irish dancers wear specially made ‘hard shoes’ and soft shoes. After black stockings were forbidden by the Church for being seductive, female dancers switched to white socks- poodle socks- which are still worn today, especially in competition where they contrast the black shoes. Tights are however slowly gaining popularity due to theatrical presentations.
The Bodhran is framed drum, usually of bent wood and goatskin tacked to one side, the other side is open ended for one hand to be placed inside the drum to control the Pitch and timbre.
The very origins of this instrument are shrouded in history. One legend dates its use to 1603 where it was used as a battle drum for the Celtic forces of “Tyrones Rebellion” fighting the forces of Queen Elizabeth 1.
Recent years have seen a significant resurgence in the Bodhrans popularity in no small part due to the work of Irish Composer “Sean O Riada”, who declared the bodhran to be the native drum of the celts with a musical history pre-dating Christianity.
From mysterious origins the Bodhran has become popular throughout the world, known as the Irish instrument central to the driving rhythms, on which Rhythm of the Dance is based.
The lovely, lilting sound of the Irish fiddle is synonymous with Irish music. The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument most often the violin While fiddle playing, or fiddling, refers to the style of music playing which is generally louder and more rhythmic than traditional classical violin. Fiddles are generally strung in a different way to a classical violin, in order to capture a uniquely Celtic sound.
The fiddle emerged in 10th-century Europe, deriving from the Byzantine lira By the 11th or 12th century the bow had been introduced to Ireland and, upon arrival in the Emerald Isle there was a rapid evolution, as the lyres were adapted for bowing. As early as these middle ages Ireland was fast gathering an international reputation for the quality of its musicians.
For centuries, Irish fiddles have been a powerful part of the cultural tradition of Ireland and are of the most important instruments in the traditional repertoire.
By the early 19th century, certain modifications and improvements to the fiddle were in place…chin rests for comfort appeared around 1820, and the range of the instrument was increased by the creation of a longer fingerboard. In the early 20th century, Irish families and friends would gather in the country, often at crossroads, and practice Irish fiddling in a group. Get-togethers at houses and pubs were also very common the instrument became a way of uniting the Irish people through traditional folk music. Modern musicians remain intrigued by the traditional folk melodies and techniques of the past and contemporary Irish musicians use the fiddle to add traditional elements to a variety of styles, including pop and rock. The fiddle is considered the oldest traditional Irish instrument of all. Irish fiddle playing today has never been more vigorous, whether at a professional or amateur level, with an extremely high standard of playing and a strong demand for the music both in Ireland and elsewhere.
There are no specific rules governing the design of costumes in step dancing. Traditional costumees are based on the simple princess cut dress. The dresses are decorated with Celtic designs, reproduced from those seen in The Book of Kells, The designs are created with applique and emboidery, and Colors have always been present to highlight the designs; The skirts are gored, box pleated, split panel, or knife-edged- all to allow free leg movement. Skirt length is to be above the knee by no more than four inches as regulated by the irish step associations
The Uillean Pipes (pronounced ill-in) are uniquely Irish. The uilleann pipes had their beginnings in the early eighteenth century. Pre-dating the Uillean pipes the common form of Irish pipes “the Irish war pipes” were very simular to the present day Scottish pipes. At one time bagpipes were popular throughout Western Europe and parts of Asia. Borrowing and combining ideas from other countries like Scotland, England, and France, the Irish began redesigning their bagpipes.
The resulting uilleann pipes are regarded as outstanding among the pipes of the world for their mellowness and sweetness of tone. These newer pipes had a chanter of two full octaves compared to the old war pipes with just nine notes. Instead of a blowpipe the bag was inflated with a bellows operated between the waist and the elbow. The final design came about the late eighteenth century with the addition of the third drone. These pipes are played in a sitting position rather than standing or marching like with war pipes or the Scottish Bag Pipes.
The Gaelic word for elbow is uilleann hence the name Uilleann pipes.
Irish Flute &
The wooden instrument known today as the Irish flute was actually not developed for that kind of music. It had been used in orchestras until it was replaced by the modern metal flute,
When the modern orchestral flute was developed by Theobald Boehm in the mid-19th century, simpler six-hole wooden flutes began appearing in pawn shops. These were sold cheap to traditional musicians who used them to play traditional Irish music. Soon a few instrument makers began duplicating the earlier wooden flutes for folk players. The newly crafted Irish flutes still had six finger holes, but now only a few or no keys as there are few sharps or flats in traditional folk music. Irish flutes are also traditionally used in bands made up of only flutes and drums. Flutes of three to seven different sizes (and ranges) are used together. The center of this band activity is Northern Ireland.
Today, Irish flutes are made from woods such as grenadilla, boxwood, or bamboo, or polymer. They can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars / euro to several thousand.
While its earliest origins are lost, the Irish harp has a certain history dating back at least 1000 years. Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland (d 1014), is said to have been an accomplished player.
At this time, the Gaelic harp was revered in Celtic culture (and all over Europe). It was commonplace for Irish kings and chieftains to have their own resident harper.
When The English monarch Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland in 1531. Such was the fame and prestige of the Irish Harp, it was chosen as the official national symbol of Ireland and used on the coinage of the time.
As the Celtic social order waned, the Gaelic harp became an emblem of resistence to the Crown and England. As such, it was banned at the end of the medieval period and the old Celtic harp tradition began to die out. By the 19th century, the Irish harp, was practically extinct.
In 1792 a group of traditional harpers assebled in belfast for a traditional harp festival where the musician and folk music collector, Edward Bunting wrote down the music they played and the terminology of the harpers. Amazingly this appears to be the first time traditional Gaelic harp music had been recorded on paper, thus saving these tunes for our enjoyment.
The traditional Irish harp’s distinguishing features are its use of wire (usually brass) strings and its resonating chamber carved from a single log (traditionally willow). The highly tensioned strings are played with fingernails, producing a very clear sound.
- NewGrange at Dawn
- Celtic Air
- Dancing at the Crossroads
- The Dublin Medley
- The Drill
- The Plight of the Irish
- Beat of the Bodhran
- The Gathering
- The Fireside
- The Departing
- Life is but a Dream
- Dawn’s First Light
- Songs Of Our Homeland
- The Bodhran Piece
- Lads and Lassies
- Trading Tunes
- Sean Nos
- The Town I Loved (song)
- The Irish in America (Swing Piece)
- Musicians Finale
Newgrange at Dawn
The show begins in Newgrange, one of Ireland’s natural wonders. Slow percussion builds as the dancers emerge on stage, standing strong, waiting for the sun to rise, bringing light, bringing life and giving them life. The dance builds until the full troupe are dancing together in powerful synchronisation, we are the people of Ireland.
Although we stand strong today, our journey has been long, follow us back across the ocean to where it all began.
Dancing at the Crossroads
A lone musician plays, beaconing to all near and far. We gather together any place we can, to play our music, our song our dance.
The Dublin Medley
Our journey now takes us to Dublin’s fair city. Where we sing songs of old, telling the tales of the past we once knew.
The Drill ( Boys Acapella)
The male dance troupe take you through a variety of different rhythms, from the basic to the most detailed intricate fast footwork. Each exhibiting the power and strength of the males competing to be the best.
The Plight of the Irish
This piece displays the female soft shoe called a slip jig, it is danced with grace, like a swan. As the female troupe gather on stage the female lead emerges, powerful and strong she leads her troupe, standing victorious.
Beat of the Bodhran
Our female lead is stirred by a rhythmic force, a brief encounter, she is not wooed and leaves. The powerful beats of the tribal drum transports us back to where it all began. The rhythms intricate and dynamic, a perfect rivalry to the percussive feet.
The band burst into uplifting irish music, calling out to the dance troupe, the party has begun.
Everyone gathers around the fire for a slower set. A time to reflect on our nations struggle before an inevitable journey.
The Departing (song)
So the time has come for us to leave Ireland, our journey continues for a place to call home.
Life is but a Dream
Some of us must leave behind our loved ones, our home is no more, we search for new lands, but let us not be sad, let us celebrate.
Dawns First Light
The sun rises on a new place, our future’s are bright and full of possibilities.
Songs of our Homeland
Envoking memories, this ever changing melody of songs closest to our musicians hearts.
The Bodhran Piece
The male troupe battle through rhythms as the Bodhran player try’s to win over our female leader.
Lads and Lassies
New places bring new inspirations, we take what we learn from the locals and make it our own.
Irish music is deep rooted in tradition, but as we travel the world, we meet new people along the way and learn from their traditions. Cultures exchanging.
Our oldest native dance style, free, simple yet intricate, from this irish dance evolved into the militant powerful style we see today, the Irish cast battle the Sean nos dancer, and join forces, old and new, in harmony.
The Town I Loved (Song)
Harking back to the place where we grew up in song, dance and tradition.
The Irish in America (Swing Piece)
The Irish in America; we find our cast in a different setting, the past is behind us and new places have brought a different era, it’s swing time.
Our band bring you their final performance in the show, highlighting each soloist and bringing the house down with foot stomping live Irish music.
After all our time spent in foreign places, we must now return home, to celebrate our culture and heritage through music and dance.
The Irish bid farewell to all the new friends we have made throughout the show.