Riverdance returns starring Birmingham dancer
A former pupil of Birmingham’s Scanlon School of Irish Dancing is set to star in Riverdance when the smash Irish dance show returns to the city this September.
Katie Hands remembers watching Riverdance in awe as a six-year-old at Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena in 1997 and admits that from that day forward she wanted to be a part of it.
Even at that age Katie was already a talented dancer, her dancing career having started three years previously.
Now the 22-year-old professional has travelled the world with Riverdance but this month’s Birmingham performance will be her first in her native city.
Currently touring the UK, the Riverdance 20th Anniversary Tour comes to the NIA for four shows from September 23.
Katie said: “I can’t wait to come back, especially to the NIA where I first saw the show.
“I think of Birmingham as my home city and I can’t wait to perform in Riverdance there.”
“Even though I was only six, I loved it and knew immediately that it was what I wanted to do, although I had no idea then that you could make a living from dance.”
Katie, who lived in Hall Green and is a former pupil of Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School, took dance classes at the Scanlon School of Irish Dancing in Acocks Green until at the age of 11 her family emigrated to County Clare.
She continued here dancing there, winning All Ireland and World medals and several Muster Championships.
After six years in Ireland Katie returned to her Birmingham roots.
“I really missed Birmingham and living in a city,” she said.
“It was too quiet in Ireland, so I moved back to live with my sister.
“I went back to Scanlon School and in July 2009, aged 17, I auditioned for Riverdance and a month later I was on the European tour.”
She added: “I’ve since performed in more than 20 countries and have travelled to China, America and Canada.”
Riverdance became an overnight sensation after being devised as a seven-minute interval segment during the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin in 1994.
Dancers Michael Flatley and Jean Butler received a standing ovation from an enraptured audience and the response from around the world led to a full show being created.
Speaking about its success and longevity Katie said: “The show hasn’t changed much in 20 years as it doesn’t need to.
“They can’t get enough of it, everywhere we go we get standing ovations. I hope to stay with the show for as long as it keeps going, as I just love it and never get bored of it.”
Riverdance is at Birmingham’s NIA from September 23-25. For tickets, go to www.theticketfactory.com