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10 Famous Irish Dancers of All Time

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Famous Irish Dancers
04 Jun, 2024

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Irish dance is a traditional folk dance form featuring solo and group performances for social or competitive purposes. This dance is mainly known for its steps requiring detailed footwork and stiff bodies. It originated in Ireland and is performed in various styles such as Ceili dance, Irish stepdance, Irish set dance, and competitive dance, all reflecting Irish culture. Famous Irish dancers have played an important role in popularizing Irish dance and attracting audiences worldwide.

Let’s explore these famous Irish dancers’ personal and professional lives, who have captured audiences through generations.

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10 Famous Irish Dancers

1: Michael Flatley

Michael Flatley
An image credit example from a Britannica

Best performances:

  • Michael Flatley gave a 7-minute performance in Ireland during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest called “Riverdance.”
  • Michael Flatley recorded 60-minute special episodes for ITV Music specials hosted by Christine Bleakley to celebrate Mr. Flatley’s career, named “Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember.”

Achievements:

  • Title of World Irish Dance Champion
  • Awarded the National Heritage Fellowship in 1988
  • Lifetime Achievement Award at the Irish Post Awards

Michael Flatley is an American dancer, actor, director, and writer. At eleven, he started taking Irish dance classes at the Dennehy School of Irish Dance. Mr. Flatley created his shows, which include “Lord of the Dance” and “Feet of Flames.”

He performed in shows in more than 60 countries and earned up to $1 billion. Due to his innovative dance choreography and eye-catching performances, he is considered one of the most famous Irish dancers worldwide.

2: Ciara Sexton

Ciara Sexton
An image credit example from a Irish Central

Best performances:

  • An Ode to Ireland
  • Heartbeat on Good Morning America
  • Fainne Oir

Achievements: Five-time World and All-Ireland Championship

Ciara Sexton is an exceptional dancer and one of the most famous Irish dancers in Ireland. She is known for her beautifully presented performances, characterized by grace, innovative skills, and choreography. After completing her degree in media in 2016, she served as a senior editor for The Irish Dancing Magazine.

Currently, she is a professor at The Irish World Academy at The University of Limerick and a certified Irish dance teacher at the Scoil Uí Nualláin Irish Dance School. Ciara teaches Irish dance to aspiring artists and blends traditional jigs with contemporary styles, showcasing her innovative interpretations of dance all over the stage.

3: Gardiner Brothers

Gardiner Brothers
An image credit example from a Wikipedia

Best performances:

  • St Patrick’s Day Special on The Six O’Clock Show
  • Performing with Riverdance for Pope Francis
  • World Championships in Montreal in 2015

Achievements:

  • 40 major Irish dancing championships titles worldwide
  • Five times World Champion Titles

The Gardiner Brothers, Michael and Matthew, are two professional, famous Irish dancers and social media influencers. They began participating in competitions and won several titles and trophies from a young age.

The duo have collaborated with brands such as Red Bull and Dubai Tourism and signed with a model and influencer agency. They are well-known Irish dancers and influencers recognized for their rhythm, innovation, and ability to dance to the beat.

4: Jean Butler

Jean Butler
An image credit example from a The New York Times

Best performances:

  • Performance with The Chieftains at Carnegie Hall
  • Mayo 5000 (1993)
  • This Is an Irish Dance

Achievements: Irish Post Award

Jean Butler is an American step dancer, Irish dancer, choreographer, and actress. She was born in Mineola, New York. At nine, she began the Irish dance class and became dedicated to it, inspired by her mentor, Donald Golden.

Jean Butler collaborated with various bands and performed with Irish music groups, such as Cherish the Ladies, an Irish American female band. She was an assistant professor of Irish Studies and collaborated with Princeton University to teach in the Princeton Atelier Program. She took retirement from dancing in 2010, but her name continues to shine among the most famous Irish dancers.

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5: Colin Dunne

Colin Dunne
An image credit example from a The Columbus Dispatch

Best performances:

  • Trading Taps
  • Carna: An Chistin with Liz Knowles

Achievements:

  • All England and All Ireland World Champion Dancer
  • Irish Post Award
  • TG4 Gradam Ceoil Award for Musical Collaboration

Colin Dunne is an English Irish dancer and choreographer who has influenced people for many years. He was born in England and graduated from Warwick University in 1989. He also appeared on television shows such as the Royal Variety Show at The Dominion in London and The Kennedy Honors at the Kennedy Centre. His legacy is rich in creativity, and culturally, his footwork inspired and captivated artists from generations to perform and follow his technique.

6: Alliyah O’Hare

Alliyah O’Hare
An image credit example from a Pinterest

Best performances:

  • Journey to the Stage
  • Scanlon School World Championship performances
  • Alliyah O’Hare performed with other Irish dancers at shows like Riverdance

Achievements: Eight-time World Championship

Alliyah O’Hare is an exceptional dancer who is considered one of the famous Irish dancers. Her grandparents encouraged her to try Irish dancing. When she was six, she started taking an interest in dancing and attending classes at the Scanlon School of Irish Dancing.

Since a young age, she has won several competitions and proven herself a fantastic Irish dancer through her dedication and skill. Alliyah O’Hare has also collaborated with other renowned Irish dancers, such as David Geaney, and is recognized as a competitive Irish dancer.

7: James Devine

James Devine
An image credit example from a New Jersey Globe

Best performances:

  • Choreographed the show Tapeire and received 5-star reviews
  • Velocity with David Geaney

Achievements:

  • Best Corporate Entertainer award at the Event Industry Awards in Dublin
  • Guinness Book of World Records as “The Fastest Dancer in the World” for achieving 38 taps per second
  • Three-time World Champion Dancer.

James Devine is known for having the world’s fastest feet. His powerful movements steal the hearts of millions and fasten the pulses of his fans. Starting to practice and dance at a young age, his dedication to his skills inspires aspiring Irish dancers to follow in his footsteps.

James Devine appeared and performed on several reality and television shows, such as Live with Regis and Kelly in New York City. After his time with Riverdance, Devine embarked on a solo career.

8: Padraic Moyles

Padraic Moyles
An image credit example from a Sunday World

Best performances:

  • “Grandchild of Kings” as a lead character
  • 25th Anniversary of Riverdance

Padraic Moyles was born in Dublin, Ireland, is a renowned artist and ranks among the famous Irish dancers. He honed his skills in Irish dance under the tutelage of Donny Golden. He joined Riverdance in 1997 and became a Dance Captain and Principal Dancer.

Padraic Moyles has performed for several heads of state and notable individuals worldwide, such as Michelle Obama and Queen Elizabeth II. He now serves as the Associate Director of Riverdance.

9: David Geaney

David Geaney
An image credit example from a Irish Independent

Best performances:

  • Velocity with James Devine
  • Irish Dancing Competition Set Dance Medley: A medley of three Irish Dancing Competition Set Dances
  • Traditional Irish Music & Dance Video: A collaboration with The Wang Sisters

Achievements: Five-time World Irish Dancing Champion

David Geaney is also known as “The Dingle Dancer.” He made his debut show on Broadway and premiered at The New Victory Theater in New York. Further, David Geaney also appeared in the world’s biggest talent show and gained popularity from Britain Got Talent in 2017.

David Geaney performed several acts with The Chieftains, The Kilfenora Ceili Band, and Asla. Sharon Shannon compared him with the legendary Fred Astaire. An internet sensation, David Geaney is a famous entertainer and one of the famous Irish dancers.

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10: Liam Costello

Liam Costello
An image credit example from a Ireland

Best performances:

  • Australian Nationals Performances
  • All Ireland Championships Performances.
  • Eireborne, choreographed by Peta Anderson

Achievements:

  • Three-time World Champion Irish Dancer.
  • Two-time All-Ireland Irish Dance Champion.
  • Flatley Freestyle Award (First-ever male recipient)

Liam Costello has left an indelible mark on the Irish dancing world through his unique styles and achievements. He began dancing jazz at age five and has since continued to refine his skills, technique, and creativity in choreography. Liam Costello received training at McGahan Lees School in England to develop his skills.

He learned Irish dance by watching videos while in school, and today he is recognized as one of the most famous Irish dancers. An insider fact about Liam Costello is that he averages five hours of training daily, which increases to eight or nine hours daily when preparing for the World Championships.

FAQs

Who was the first Irish dancer?

The Celts, a group of tribes, were the first to adopt Irish dancing as a religious celebration. They danced around the tree.

Who is the most famous Irish dancer in the world?

The most famous Irish dancer is Michael Flatley, known as the “Lord of the Dance” for his captivating shows and creative choreography.

Who is the famous Irish female dancer?

Known as the “First Lady of Irish Dance,” Jean Butler rose to prominence as Michael Flatley’s original female lead in “Riverdance.” Her grace, precision, and expressive movements earned her acclaim as one of the foremost Irish dancers of her generation

Who are some iconic Irish dancers?

Some of the iconic Irish dancers are:

  • Colin Dunne
  • Michael Flatley
  • Ciara Sexton

Who is the fastest Irish dancer in the world?

James Devine is the fastest Irish dancer in the world, tapping his feet 38 times in just one second.

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