Back in the days of VHS cassettes, Amy-Mae Dolan had a small collection of her favourite tapes. One recording saw many more repeat viewings than the others.

“I had Barney (the dinosaur), and my mom and dad’s wedding video, and I had Riverdance,” she shares with Celtic Life International via Zoom. “I watched it over and over again. I was basically learning how to dance when I was really tiny – from the time I started walking.”

Born and bred in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Dolan’s early life was inundated with the magic of Riverdance. In fact, by the time she was born, the Irish dance spectacular was a worldwide phenomenon.

“Riverdance surprised the world in 1994 at the Eurovision Song Contest, and my mum remembers the night it happened,” says Dolan, adding that her parents grew up during The Troubles, and that the newfound global interest in Irish culture meant a great deal to them.

“I can’t stress that enough; Riverdance was the first thing that made Irish dancing seem, like, professional.”

Dolan lived and breathed Riverdance, idolizing the likes of primary dancers Michael Flatley and Jean Butler.

“I simply had a natural love – and, apparently, quite a natural talent – for it.”

The folks at Riverdance agreed and, in 2016, at the tender age of 18, Dolan joined the show.

“That summer, I attended the Riverdance summer school. It’s a great place to audition for the show, as they get to see you all week – and not just to see if you are a good dancer, but if you are a team player, if you have resilience, if you are disciplined, all that kind of stuff.”

That is by design, explains Padraic Moyles, the show’s executive producer and assistant director.

“What we really like to do is get an understanding of the people that we are hiring, rather than just the talent that we are hiring,” Moyles says in a Zoom call from his office in Dublin. He has been with Riverdance as long as Dolan has been alive, and, from that vantage point, he has seen the show and its talent grow and evolve – especially for its recent 25th anniversary festivities.

“Bill Whelan completely redid the score and remastered it. He took on that challenge and has made the music even better – if that was even possible. John McColgan and Moya Doherty redesigned the entire show, reinvested in it. They came up with a whole new set design, new visuals, new lighting.”

“There was nothing wrong with it as it was” notes Dolan, who was chosen as a primary dancer for the quarter-century celebrations. “It was just maybe time for a wee touch up.”

“It is the highest achievement for an Irish dancer,” she continues. “It just doesn’t get any bigger or better than that. It is a real joy, a privilege, and a pinch-me moment every time I get to do it.”

Riverdance is still technically celebrating its 25th anniversary, as it takes time for a worldwide stage show of its size and stature to visit all its markets. As that tour winds down, Moyles and his troupe are looking forward to the show’s 3oth anniversary, where they plan to reinvent the spectacle all over again.

“We are currently in that same process again,” he muses, adding that plans to visit Australia, Japan, Europe, and a 14-week stint at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre, will stretch into 2026. “What’s going to be new? How are we going to evolve?”

“There is so much hype heading into the 30th anniversary,” adds Dolan, who feels the weight of being a role model to young dancers watching her at home – like she used to look up to Jean Butler on her well-worn VHS tape. “It’s so cool to think that I might be a part of both the 25th and the 30th anniversary. Fingers crossed!”

“The overwhelming response has been that this new, reimagined version of the show is just so much better than anything we have had before,” says Moyles. “We have people that came as kids who are now taking their kids and even their grandkids. So, for people who have seen the show before, we are eternally grateful…and I can say in all confidence that they will never see anything like what we have planned for the next few years.”