Your last chance to experience the tapping tempest of Riverdance is this weekend in San Jose!

Photo credit: Clark James Mishler

Your last chance to see the most incredible dance phenomenon of the decade, Riverdance is in San Jose this weekend at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. If you have never seen this show before, you will either have to drive to San Jose or drive a little bit further, possibly to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks.

I was introduced to Riverdance in 2002 in San Francisco. I had never seen anything even close to the tapping tempest and fury created by this company’s enchanting flying feet. Riverdance became a closely treasured memory for years. When the opportunity arose to see and review this current production once again, I jumped at it and was once again thrilled beyond expectation!

Now in its 15th year, Riverdance has decided to bring their touring show to a final brilliant farewell performance in America, with the last show to perform in the Bay Area this weekend, on January 3rd. The show will move on to other cities, but not within such an easy commute.

It is difficult to remember exactly what the show was like in 2002, but it seems to me that this show had a broader ethnic expanse and expression, with the introduction of the Moscow Folk Ballet Company into the fabric of their exciting dance and choral routines. Certainly the company is still primarily Celtic in the heart of their music and the dancers still tap out the brilliant routines created originally by Jean Butler and Michael Flatley. Numbers such as “The Countess Cathleen”, “The Thunderstorm”, “Riverdance” and the fiery flamenco numbers that brought a cacophony of applause. Meld into this melodic evening of dance and music, the haunting sounds of the Riverdance Band and you must surely be close to an Irish heaven. Most especially the sounds of the Uilleann Pipes and low whistles provided by Declan Masterson, the gorgeous strings of violinist Pat Mangan, the soul searing drumming rhythms provided by percussionist Mark Alfred, and the sweet resonance of saxophone artist, Danile Dorrance.

Current lead dancers, Craig Ashhurst, Liam Ayres, Melissa Convery, Caterina Coyne, Marty Dowds and Alana Mallon have the audience sitting on the edges of their seats and they sit spellbound by the magical flying feet. When incorporated in dance routines that include brilliantly choreographed flowing streams of fog, moonlight, dancing lights, lilting music and whirling acrobatic Russians, the evening is simply breath-taking, stunning to the senses.

Producer Moya Doherty echoes the companies often repeated chorus that Riverdance has far exceeded and “gone beyond our wildest dreams!” To date, Riverdance has played over 10,000 performances, been seen live by more than 21 million people in over 300 venues throughout 32 countries and 4 continents. The company has sold over 3 million copies of their Grammy Award-winning CD and over 10 million videos, making it one of the best received dance productions in the world.

Riverdance was first performed during the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30, 1994. It received a standing ovation. This first performance featured Irish Dancing Champions Jean Butler & Michael Flatley, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the Celtic choral group Anúna with a score written by Bill Whelan.

Whelan had also composed "Timedance" — an early version of "Riverdance" — for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, performed by Planxty. Most of the show's original choreography was done by Michael Flatley.

Riverdance is produced and directed by husband and wife team John McColgan and Moya Doherty, controlled through their production company Abhann Productions, based in Dublin. In November 1994 tickets were sold in Dublin for the first full-length performance of Riverdance, which opened at the Point Theatre on February 9, 1995. The show ran for five weeks and was a sell-out.

Michael Flatley left the show reportedly over creative differences with the producers before the show's second run in London. Irish dancer Colin Dunne stepped into the role of lead dancer and went on to perform in subsequent productions before leaving the show in 1998.

Riverdance is a thunderous celebration of Irish music, song and dance that has stayed the test of time and won accolades for the folk music of Ireland around the world. Call (408) 792-4111 or visit to purchase tickets. Performances continue tonight at 8 p.m., tomorrow, Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and again on Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., the closing performance for this last Bay Area tour. The San Jose Center for the Performing Arts is located at 255 Almaden Boulevard in downtown San Jose.

If you happen to be in Los Angeles or have friends there, tell them that the show will perform at the Pantages Theatre between January 12th and the 24th. The box office phone in Los Angeles is (323) 468-1770.