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Minister Brophy opens ‘Riverdance at Expo’ in Dubai

Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D. represented the Government at the opening night of Riverdance at Expo 2020 Dubai, welcoming Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Managing Director for the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau and Minister of State for International Cooperation as guest of honour.

Riverdance at Expo marks a unique co-production between Ireland and the UAE, bringing Irish music, dance and creativity to the world. The cultural phenomenon of Riverdance is inspired by Irish traditions and heritage. This specially curated, Middle-Eastern influenced reinterpretation of their 25th Anniversary Show will delight Expo’s international audience throughout the month of November. The show will feature middle-eastern musicians and instruments, including the oud and ney. Riverdance at Expo will feature a cast of 80 of musicians and dancers from all around the world.

Minister Brophy said:

“Expo 2020 Dubai has rightly prided itself on its capacity to bring the nations and cultures of the world together. Riverdance at Expo is testament to that global ambition and is a unique collaboration between Ireland and the UAE. I am delighted to welcome Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy to the Irish pavilion to celebrate this special occasion and commend her for her leadership on this ambitious and wonderful project.

Riverdance at Expo is about participation and connection and through their masterclasses and popup performances, the Riverdance team will bring the best of Irish music and dance to people of all backgrounds.

Ireland’s theme for Expo 2020 is ‘Island of Inspiration: putting creativity at the centre of the human experience. Through our pavilion and wider presence at Expo, we aim to showcase the groundbreaking work of creative Irish artists and innovators. As one of our best known cultural exports, Riverdance, and the many talents it embraces, signals clearly the richness of our offering.”

The premiere marks the first of 22 performances of Riverdance, continuing until the 27th November at the 15,000 seat Jubilee Park. Alongside these shows, Riverdance at Expo will comprise of 45 masterclasses and 20 pop-up performances across Expo and Dubai. At the free masterclasses, the professional dancers will lend their skills to guests who wish to get involved and learn more about Irish dance. Those who take part in the masterclasses are invited to return for the 27 November Grand Finale to showcase their skills.

Committed to bringing the passion and energy of Riverdance to residents of the UAE, and building on important themes of diversity and inclusivity, Riverdance will hold auditions for a coveted place in the cast. UAE residents with a passion for dance (of all styles!) are invited to audition for the chance to train with the professionals in Dubai. The lucky winner will immerse themselves in the Riverdance culture and perfect their skills daily for 25 days straight before joining the cast on stage during the Grand Finale Show on 27 November. Auditions will be open to anyone aged 16+ for the chance of becoming the first UAE cast member to join the Riverdance family.

Guests were welcomed to the Irish Pavilion by Pat Hennessy, Commissioner General of the Ireland Pavilion at Expo, Aidan Cronin, Ambassador of Ireland to the UAE and key members of the Riverdance creative team: John McColgan, Director, Bill Whelan, Composer, Padraic Moyles, Executive Director alongside principal dancers from the show.

John McColgan, Director of Riverdance said:

“Special thanks the UAE, Expo 2020 Dubai and to the Government of Ireland for making it possible to bring Riverdance to this unique event. We consider this honour to be a main highlight of our performance year.

Riverdance would also like to acknowledge the organisational and logistical support provided by the Irish Pavilion." John McColgan Co-Founder and Director, Riverdance.”

The full schedules for shows, masterclasses and pop-up performances are available at All performances, masterclasses and pop-ups are free to attend for any visitor to Expo with a valid pass. No prior booking is required, but visitors are encouraged to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Minister Brophy’s visit to Expo also included the launch of the Mies van der Rohe Award exhibition at the Irish pavilion, in partnership with the EU Commission. This temporary exhibition entitled ‘European Architecture as a Caregiver’ demonstrates Ireland’s engagement at Expo as a member of the European Union and addresses key issues within Urban and Rural Development theme week, which runs from 31 October to 6 November. The launch at the Irish pavilion on 1 November was attended by Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission for Interinstitutional Relations.

For full information on Ireland’s presence at Expo, please visit and follow us on social media on:

Twitter @Irelandatexpo

Instagram @Irelandatexpo



Press Office

3 November 2021


Notes for Editors

Photos of the Riverdance performance can be downloaded here:

About Riverdance:

Originally a 7-minute Eurovision interval act performance that dazzled TV audiences in 1995, Riverdance has become a full-length musical, dance and theatrical performance achieving worldwide acclaim. To date, Riverdance has been performed over 12,160 times and has been seen live by over 27.5 million people in 546 venues worldwide.

Twenty-five years on from the first time Riverdance the Show premiered at The Point Theatre Dublin, composer Bill Whelan has re-recorded his mesmerising soundtrack while producer Moya Doherty and director John McColgan have completely reimagined the ground-breaking show with innovative and spectacular lighting, projection and stage designs with new costume designs by Joan Bergin, to create Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show.


About Ireland at Expo 2020:


Ireland at Expo 2020 is an ambitious all-of-government initiative and provides a unique opportunity to showcase Ireland to a global audience. Ireland’s theme at Expo is ‘Island of Inspiration: putting creativity at the centre of human experience’.

Ireland is  expressing this theme through high-level participation in debates and forums, engagement in theme weeks and through a cultural programme built around music, design, literature and creative writing, film, architecture and coding.

Ireland’s participation in the ten themed weeks organised and programmed by Expo will be a cornerstone of our engagement at Expo. These weeks, such as Urban & Rural Development and Tolerance & Inclusivity in November, along with Knowledge & Learning in December and Global Goals in January, will take place over the six months of Expo, often coinciding with relevant international trade fairs in the Middle East. Engagement in the theme weeks provides Ireland an opportunity to contribute to international discussion and debate on key issues.

Music and Creativity

The music programme has been developed in partnership with Ireland’s National Concert Hall. Alongside the Riverdance at Expo residency throughout November, Ireland’s musical performance offering includes:

  • Expo World Choir: You Raise Me Up, whichwillbring all of the participating nations at Expo together in a special concert curated by conductor David Brophy on 9 December in Jubilee Park. All UAE residents are invited to join. Please see for full information
  • The Irish Songbook focuses on iconic Irish songs. During the 6 months of Expo, these songs will be explored and reinterpreted live at the Ireland Pavilion and other venues, leading to a new album, the Irish Songbook Reimagined, which will be recorded during Expo and released internationally for Saint Patrick’s Day 2022.
  • The Expo Players are drawn from a deep well of young Irish musical talent. They are introducing audiences to Irish music, its history, instruments and stories. They have also created their own interpretations of songs from the Irish songbook.
  • St Patrick’s Day event: Martin Hayes, one of Ireland’s most revered traditional musicians, will lead a specially created new concert exploring Irish music from its roots right through to a highly charged, contemporary rendition. 

Expo - the Business opportunity for Ireland

There is a strong focus across the six months of Expo on business and enterprise, including:

  • Enterprise Ireland’s (post-Covid) trade missions to the region, including to WETEX (Water, Energy, Environment Technology Exhibition, Dubai Airshow, and Arab Health - aligning with Expo - bringing Irish companies to the fore creating continual business opportunities throughout Expo.
  • IDA Ireland’s presentation of Ireland’s FDI story and proposition in the Ireland pavilion and focused regional communications campaign to coincide with Expo. 
  • Promotion of Ireland as a great place to study, undertake research, and innovate as led by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS), including through participation in Knowledge and Learning Week and RewirEd in December.
  • Bord Bia’s showcasing of the very best of Irish food and drink, including events that will gather top chefs, hotel & restaurant owners, and sectoral influencers, with a strong emphasis on Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods week in February.  
  • Tourism Ireland & Failte Ireland’s tourism and industry focused events and communications initiatives will be featured throughout Expo, including Tourism Ireland’s exhibition at the Irish pavilion and via participation in Travel & Connectivity week in January
  • Irish business features in all of the 10 thematic business forums of Expo. Opportunities to engage with international companies during relevant business events within and aligned with Expo, including Arab Health, will be maximised.
  • Ireland’s ‘We are the Makers’ exhibition, which showcases world-leading examples of Irish science, innovation and creativity.  
  • The Dubai Irish Business Network (IBN), working with Ireland’s Embassy in UAE, and State Agencies are holding a series of business events throughout Expo, with a focus on opportunities in the region.
  • Ireland’s presence will amplify the importance of technology in the Irish economic success story, and the value proposition of Ireland and Irish companies.




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