Riverdance is a young Irish boy’s dream come true.
For Belfast native Jason O’Neill, being an audience member at one of the iconic show’s performances was a moment he’ll never forget.
“I saw it when I was 10, and it just changed my life,” said O’Neill, who now works as a lead dancer with the group.
As part of its “Farewell” tour, Riverdance will perform for the final time in the Capital Region on Tuesday at Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It’s the last time they’ll be doing it in the United State for many years I’m sure,” O’Neill said of the “Farewell” tour. “They want to go to new countries and explore new places.”
A blend of dance, music and song, Riverdance transforms Celtic traditions into a contemporary art form. Working with music by Bill Whelan, the group of dancers and musicians continues to inspire multiple generations of audiences.
The dance troupe, which premiered in Dublin in 1995, has had an amazing run for 17 years — and more than 10,000 performers.
Being a part of the show has enabled O’Neill, who joined the cast in 2009, to travel around Europe, Canada, Korea and the United States.
“The schedule is a roller coaster,” he said.
Despite the hectic travel, the performers have to stay in top shape. In addition to dancing, O’Neill runs, swims and skips rope.
“It’s very challenging physically. I think the older you get, you learn to look after your body better.
“You have to rest, and I put my legs on ice every night to keep inflation down,” O’Neill said.
The dancer has found that life on the road actually can be better for his fitness regimen.
“Your body adapts. It becomes a routine. Sometimes at home there are more distractions, and it gets difficult to get into it,” he said.
The show’s run in the United States may be drawing to a close, but O’Neill hopes to remain a part of the Riverdance legacy.
“At the end of the summer, it’s going on to South America,” he said. “I want to join and keep going on with the show.”