Riverdance to tour the United States with the group’s first black dancer

NEW YORK (AP) – When the Irish dance troupe Riverdance kicks off its 25th anniversary North American tour later this year, a special someone will be in its high-profile cast: the troupe’s first black female dancer.

Virginia-born Morgan Bullock, who says she has been mesmerized by the dance style since she first saw it aged 10, will make her professional stage debut in the United States in the production. She recently completed a UK tour with the show.

“Irish dancing in general is just something I felt deeply from the first time I saw it – it was something I was meant to do,” she says. “For some reason it stuck with me.”

The tour begins March 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and will make stops in cities including Boston; Springfield, Ill.; Pittsburgh; Buffalo, New York; Milwaukee, Wis.; Toledo, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Kansas City, Missouri and Birmingham, Alabama.

“I feel so honored and so excited to be a part of the show as it returns to American audiences,” said the Virginia Commonwealth University graduate who studied at the Baffa Academy of Irish Dance. “I hope the tour will reach an even wider audience.”

While Bullock had been known to producers since attending a Riverdance summer school in Boston as a teenager, her profile exploded when TikTok videos of her kicking and tapping to hip-hop songs like “Savage by Megan Thee Stallion and “Kiss Me More” by Doja Cat and SZA gone viral. These videos served as his audition tape.

“Besides the talent that she is, her personality and what she stands for as a human being is what we stand for,” says Padraic Moyles, the show’s executive producer and director. “That’s one of the main reasons we felt it was time for Morgan to be on the show.”

Bullock’s inclusion was widely applauded, though she initially faced online snark and even racial abuse from those who accuse her of cultural appropriation.

“I think what’s so special about Irish dancing is that it transcends cultural boundaries, and it’s something that can be enjoyed by literally anyone, no matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter if you even have an Irish connection,” she says. “It’s a beautiful cultural art form. name, people think you have to be Irish, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Riverdance” premiered at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest as a seven-minute segment and opened at the Point Theater in Dublin on February 9, 1995, at a time of optimism and renewed Irish pride surrounding the start of the booming “Celtic Tiger” economy. . He has traveled around the world several times.

The two-hour “Riverdance” show is loosely based on the story of Irish culture and mass immigration to America, the story woven through music and dance styles, including flamenco and tap dancing. Most of the dances are taken from traditional Irish dancing, in which the arms and body move little while the feet create the sound and action.

“Although the style itself may seem rigid in its traditional form, I use it as an outlet to express myself,” says Bullock. “Almost everything about it fascinates me. There is something about Irish dancing that I think resonates with everyone who watches it.

Moyles, who danced in the show for years, says the creators of Riverdance – Moya Doherty and John McColgan – always hoped that one day it would include dancers from all over the world. Currently, it has artists from the United States, Iran, Australia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, and Canada.

“If you’re good enough, if you have an open mind to try something and work hard at it, then we at Riverdance will welcome you with open arms,” ​​he says.

Bullock is part of a fraternity of women who have recently broken barriers on American stages, including Emilie Kouatchou, who became the first black woman to play Christine in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway, and Brittney Johnson, who is set to become the first black woman to play Glinda in “Wicked.”

Moyles says he was particularly impressed with the professionalism and maturity Bullock showed when dealing with online enemies. “Morgan is here because she’s fantastic first and foremost. And because of the type of person she is and the way she represents or blends in with the culture that is Riverdance.

Bullock looks forward to a family reunion on St. Patrick’s Day, as it should be. She will perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, not far from her family home in Midlothian, Virginia.

“I have a lot of family and friends planning to come to this,” she says. “I got really, really excited about it when I saw that on the program.”

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Marc Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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