Ipswich: Irish dancer Andy O’Reilly tells of his early dedication during Ipswich-leg of the 20th anniversary tour

Lily Wade gets a masterclass from Aoife Kennedy and Andy O'Reilly

Lily Wade gets a masterclass from Aoife Kennedy and Andy O'Reilly - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Anyone passing the Regent Theatre, Ipswich this week will be able to hear the distinctive tones of Gaelic music emanating from the auditorium.

Lily Wade gets a masterclass from Aoife Kennedy and Andy O'Reilly

Lily Wade gets a masterclass from Aoife Kennedy and Andy O'Reilly - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Riverdance is in town and throughout the afternoons the dancers have been warming up and rehearsing ready for their evening performances.

“We arrived on Tuesday and spent the whole afternoon rehearsing before the first show,” said troupe dancer Aoife Kennedy.

Irish-born Aoife and her fellow cast members are a fortnight into a 16-week tour, culminating in a week-long stop in Switzerland.

“We will be tired by then but it will be exciting, and then it is Christmas and we know we will get a rest.”

Aoife, who has been dancing since she was five, joined the cast last summer.


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Co-star Andy O’Reilly has been dancing with Riverdance since 2007, although recently took a break to dance in Heartbreak of Home.

On his return to Riverdance, he said: “It is just an exciting show to be a part of, I still get shivers every time I hear the music.

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“I am most looking forward to appearing at Hammersmith Apollo because in all the years I have done Riverdance, I have never done London.

“Hammersmith is where I first saw Riverdance when I was nine. My dad is Irish and he took us, and that is what made me want to dance.”

Back home in Herefordshire Andy was unable to find a class.

“We used to travel to Bristol for classes four days a week, it was an hour and 10 minutes away.

“I think I was the only nine-year-old lad in Herefordshire that did Irish dancing.”

For Aoife, Irish dancing was a right of passage.

“In Ireland your whole primary school class would go to dance class straight from school, everyone did it.

“I don’t think it is like that now but we are still getting lots of Irish dancers coming up through the competitions. It is taught in schools all over the world, and that is all because of Riverdance.”

Andy added: “This is what we all aim for, this is what we all aspire to.”

The cast has three principle dancers for each of the male and female parts, and they dance on rotation.

“It is so demanding, you just wouldn’t be able to do it all the time,” said Andy.

“If you haven’t done the show for a while, when you do it, it kills. The audience are always so good that you get an adrenalin rush to keep you going.”

Aoife added: “When you do eight shows a week every week it is demanding but your fitness and stamina is a lot better and you are more able for it.”

As they were warming up for tonight’s show, they gave Lily Wade, a dance student from Farlingaye High School a masterclass.

She said afterwards: “I don’t know how they dance for two hours a night, my calves ache already.”

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