It was 1996 and Padraic Moyles was sitting in Radio City Music Hall when he got his first glimpse of Riverdance, which was just breaking out to world acclaim. An Irish dancer himself, he decided he had to be part of the mesmerizing, finely coordinated lines of dancers with their straight upper bodies and flashing feet.
"I went and did an audition and I was one of the lucky ones, and I was in the show within the year," he told Art Attack. And that's where he's stayed since November 17, 1997 -- with the exception of one two-year hiatus -- becoming a principal dancer with the company.
The producers of Riverdance announced last year they were going to take a break from the U.S. market so the show coming to Houston's Hobby Center, courtesy of Gexa Energy's Broadway Across America, is a farewell bow.
And one that Moyles is not that happy about.
"We're going to be disappointed to leave the United States. The producers were ready to leave in terms of going out on top. We still get terrific audiences around the country; other markets have opened up for Riverdance right now like India, South Africa, China, South America and rather than dilute the talent by creating another show, the producers decided to take that American company and put that into a separate part of the world for a while."
That all sounds exciting but for the fact, Moyles said, that "life on tour in America is so much easier than it is around the rest of the world."
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Moyles, who moved to the United States from Ireland with his family when he was nine, said he started dancing when he was about three, copying his sister, who was taking lessons. They decided to put him in as well. "For a long long time I hated it. I tried to quit numerous times but, thankfully, my mother knew best," he said.
Riverdance will end its United States run in June, then go back to Dublin for ten weeks as usual, before moving on to India, Europe, China and South America, he said.
It was so successful initially because no one had seen anything like it before. "Now everyone knows it so well, but they still find it hard to believe we can do it together." Riverdance continues to appeal, he said, because of its great music and the fact that its producers always "search for the best dancers and musicians."
Riverdance runs at the Hobby Center February 10-12 for five performances. For tickets call 1-800-982-2787 or go to www.BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com/Houston or www.TheHobbyCenter.org.