19-Year-Old Figure Skater Performs Irish Riverdance Routine On Ice That Brings Spectators To Their Feet

Dec 04, 2021 by apost team

At 19, Jason Brown was already a U.S. national champion figure skater in 2014. He was asked to come up with a new skating routine set to the music "Reel Around The Sun." After performing in the style of the famous Irish Riverdance, his unique routine had audience members gobsmacked.

His performance catapulted him into a spot on the U.S. Olympic team and onto the international stage. What was his secret? He did a Riverdance-style Irish dance on ice.

Step dancing is relatively difficult to learn, and yet Brown managed to not only quickly learn it but also to perform the Riverdance style dance in ice skates, showcasing his incredible talent.

Brown, currently 26, has won a number of awards for his figure skating, including the Bronze Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, and as reported by NBC Sports, he is looking to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Today, much of his notoriety online still stems from his “Riverdance”-inspired performance.

You might ask yourself: Where did this dance come from? And why is it so popular?

While the performance does have roots in traditional-style music, "Riverdance" is a modern creation. Bill Whelan and Donal Lunny composed a three-part suite named “Timedance” for the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, which was hosted by none other than Ireland that year. This composition was a precursor to the "Riverdance" that fans know and love today. During that 1981 performance, the Irish folk band Planxty — known for their songs “Raggle Taggle Gypsy,” “The West Coast of Claire” and “The Good Ship of Kangaroo” — performed with a four-piece horn section and a rock rhythm section.

Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video :-) 

While the massive band played, a group of ballet dancers accompanied the music.

But it wasn't until a Eurovision performance in 1994 that "Riverdance" came to fruition. Performed as an interval act for the Eurovision Song Contest at Dublin's Point Theatre, "Riverdance" was just a 7-minute performance, which was transmitted to around 300 million viewers worldwide, according to the "Riverdance" website.

"Just as my life changed with Eurovision 1994 so the cultural image of Ireland was also transformed. Irish culture, expressed in this case through dance and music, and as part of a wider, cultural awakening, took its place with confidence on the world stage," co-producer Moya Doherty was quoted as saying on The "Riverdance" website.

The performance received a standing ovation, and Doherty and her husband were convinced that they had something special on their hands. The couple invested more than $1 million to produce a full-length version of the show. And it turns out that was exactly the right move.

Since then, "Riverdance" has become an international theater phenomenon. Various productions take place all over the world from New York City to Geneva.

"It is rare in my theatergoing experience to pine for something specific during Act One — only to have it delivered with winning playfulness in Act Two. ‘Riverdance’ does that," Kathleen Campion writes in her 2020 review of the 25th Anniversary Show at Radio City Music Hall. "The seemingly effortless flights of dancing supported by lively mythic sounds, in the first act, is gorgeous. Still, as I watched the Irish dancing, I kept seeing Bill Robinson, and Gregory Hines and Gene Kelly."


Most recently, production companies River Productions and Aniventure released an animated feature film based on "Riverdance." The cast included well-known actors and actresses like Lilly Singh, Pierce Brosnan, Pauline McLynnBrendan Gleeson, Jermaine Fowler, Aisling Bea and John Kavanagh.

"The breadth and depth of the comedic and dramatic talent of this cast resonates with every line. Their vast experiences and wild imaginations delivered brilliantly nuanced performances which will thrill their fans and charm new audiences,” director Dave Rosenbaum said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Whether or not you're familiar with "Riverdance," you now see just how popular and successful it is. It's gone from a short 7-minute performance to become a worldwide theater sensation and a feature film featuring Pierce Brosnan.

It has also inspired other prominent dance groups like the Fusion Fighters, a contemporary dance group founded by Chris Naish. The Fusion Fighters went viral with their 2017 Irish dance World Championships performance.

Similar to “Riverdance,” Naish’s company also aims to add a modern twist to more traditional forms of dance, according to the Fusion Fighters’ mission statement. The crew is made up of more than 50 dancers, hundreds of international students and more than 20 musicians. 

According to an interview with Celtic Life, the Fusion Fighters are directly influenced by “Riverdance.” The dance company’s founder and artistic director, Chris Naish, has even danced with Whelan’s 200-member orchestra.

If you're curious how "Riverdance" has managed to inspire a whole generation of ambitious dancers and figure skaters like Naish and Brown, watch the video below.

And if you enjoy the performance, rest assured that there are myriad “Riverdance” performances on YouTube — from the 2003 Olympics in Dublin, Ireland, to the 1994 Eurovision version.

What do you think of Brown’s figure skating routine? Have you watched other “Riverdance”-inspired performances? Let us know — and be sure to pass this on.

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