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The Best of Riverdance

148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Experience the Riverdance journey from its extraordinary beginnings at the Point Theatre, Dublin, with original stars Michael Flatley and Jean Butler, through its phenomenal success in Radio City Music Hall, New York to its latest live recording in Geneva.

The DVD debut of Michael Flatley's performance in Riverdance (or at least part of it) is one of the highlights of The Best of Riverdance, a generous survey of the Irish hard-shoe sensation that has riveted live audiences and PBS viewers for a decade. Beginning with the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest performance that led to the full-length stage show, the program compiles a number of highlights from the show's history, taken mostly from three sources. There's the original 1995 televised show starring the flamboyant, record-setting tapper Flatley and his partner, Jean Butler. There's the 1997 New York City concert, with Colin Dunne opposite Butler. And finally there's the 2003 performance from Geneva headlined by Brendán de Gallaí and Joanne Doyle. Because elements of the show and numerous performers have changed over the years, each performance has its own character, and The Best of Riverdance even takes the unusual step of blending segments of various shows into a single number. For example, "Riverdance" switches back and forth among the three shows and the three sets of leads. "Lift the Wings" begins with two verses of the solo voice of Áine Uí Cheallaigh, then segues into segments from the ensemble-sung version from New York and Geneva. Because the solo rendition was one of the biggest losses of later generations of the show, it's nice to have at least part of it on DVD. Likewise, because Flatley's complete Riverdance performance is not yet available on DVD, fans will be glad to have at least a few numbers here. Other later-generation numbers included are "American Wake" and "Trading Taps," and the DVD menu screens very clear note which performer or combination of performers is performing.

Brand new in this nearly two-hour program are occasional introductions by Jean Butler, which help explain some of the ambiguous stage action. Bonus features are a new one-hour documentary about the history of the show, 16 minutes of high-speed backstage footage, and an eight-minute performance from the 2003 Special Olympics. Some viewers may find the introductions or the performance switches jarring to the flow, and The Best of Riverdance is surely not a substitute for the complete performances of the show, but it is a nice compilation, and offers some footage that you can't see anywhere else. --David Horiuchi

Special Features

  • 18 of the all-time best performances
  • Riverdance: The 10 Years: all-new 65-minute documentary
  • Riverdance: Behind the Scenes: never-before-seen footage of the backstage crew in action
  • Performance at the Special Olympics opening ceremony

Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Flatley, Jean Butler, Brendán de Gallaí, Eileen Martin, Areleen Ni Bhaoill
  • Directors: John McColgan
  • Producers: Jean-Luc Koenig, Joan Egan Foglia, Julian Erskine, Moya Doherty, Serge Minkoff
  • Format: Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2005
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000929UNM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,221 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Best of Riverdance" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Senko on December 14, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I'll always be a bigger fan of Lord of the Dance but there's no denying what show started it all. "The Best of Riverdance" was better than I expected and was relieved to see they included footage of Michael Flatley despite the ugly breakup of the star from the show. It was well put-together. Other buyers have complained that the narration by female lead Jean Butler upsets the flow but that's certainly not the case. It's not like she's talking during the numbers. She's there to introduce the clips from the show and provide some background on them. Her part in this dvd is quite necessary. In addition, her behind-the-scenes insight proves to be interesting.

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since the show's inception. This video is a great recollection of how it came about from a 7 minute jaw-dropping performance to a full-fledged touring production.
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133 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Celeste A. Kostyniuk on March 18, 2006
Format: DVD
Celeste's review: I wanted to own a copy of Riverdance, and foolishly thought that the Best of Riverdance meant that they would pick out the best performance of each number and include that. They did include quite a few of the hits, but instead of showing the one best performance, they had to be "democratic" and include all of the performers, spliced together on the same numbers. So one moment you see girls in pink dresses, then they are in green, then back again. One lead dancer, then another, in a different costume. Also the film quality changes from each performance, so one minute you are seeing what looks like a videotape, the next what looks like a movie. It was jarring, distacting, and annoying.

The only saving graces were that the finale doesn't have the jumping around, spliced business at the end, it includes Davy Spillane's "Caoineadh Chú Chulainn", and the tappers are great.

A shame really, because this could have been a great DVD. We ended up ordering Riverdance - The Show (1995) from Amazon UK, so we could see the show in a smooth, seamless production. We do wish they would make a DVD of the 1995 version. Or re-do this one. We simply can't recommend it.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By C. Dunne on June 11, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As soon as I saw this DVD listed for sale I bought it. Of course, I had lingering doubts in my mind as to would it be better than the Live From Geneva Recording I already owned, or would it be horrible.
Well, the good news is, I thoroughly enjoy this DVD. It's a must-have for any fan of Riverdance.
One feature I particularily enjoy and am ecstatic about is Jean Butler's narration between scenes. Although I am an English teacher in the Bronx, I also teach a section on Music Appreciation where I try and slip in Riverdance during the dance unit. With Butler's narration they'll have an easier time understanding the story behind the dancing which is an added bonus.
One thing a viewer has to become accustomed to is the fact that during many of the pieces, they switch back and forth between 3-4 different performances. The cuts are seamless, the only thing that makes them noticable is that the older performances were filmed using older means, so when you go from the Geneva performance which is extremly crisp, to the original 1995 performance where there is less quality its distracting. Other than that its terrific and I highly reccomend this DVD to anyone interested in Irish Dance or Riverdance in particular!
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Candlish on June 12, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a hudge Riverdance fan who has been unable to see my original VHS tapes in a long time. However, this version is disjointed with way too much jumping between lead dancers. I like Jean Butler but having her constantly interrupt between each dance loses the flow and rhythm of the show. Her information was educational, but I wanted to hear music and see dancing! The scene selection starts with Butler's narration so even when you pick out a dance you still need to fast forward. I miss my original Riverdance filmed in Dublin, it showed way more of the dance. Again, the editing is quite poor, never following their feet for more than a flash. I was sadly disappointed, but I'm still a hudge fan of Riverdance.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By IndustryExecutive on June 15, 2005
Format: DVD
If you are a Riverdance fan you will want to add this to your collection. Fabulous action, beautiful music and lovely poetry from Riverdance troupes across the last decade and, above all, the hosting of the incomparable Jean Butler. Her introductions add considerable insight and atmosphere to the familiar pieces. You will want to own the full all-in-one Riverdance in New York City as well, but this is a great program with some fascinating added features for all Riverdance fans.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By John A. M. Darnell on January 3, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
My love of Celtic culture grew independently of the Riverdance phenomenon, nevertheless, when the two merged, it was like fire and oil, developing a bright, hot flame.

So I was pleased to find a piece of work that attempted to document the Riverdance story. I saw the very first Riverdance, performed during the Eurosong festival, and I watched it as it developed into the massively monumental work it now is. I so thoroughly enjoyed the Riverdance segment performed in Ireland for the Special Olympics (introduced by Pierce Brosnan--an Irishman) that I watched it four times in a row.

More importantly, I learned something about the characters involved in this phenomenon. I learned that yes, indeed, Michael Flatley for all his brilliance on the dance floor, has an ego the size of the Titanic (and may have the same fate some day--ah but I digress). I learned that the founders of the show were scared but determined. I learned that more than once misfortune befell the troupe, but they recovered and triumphed anyway.

This is a documentary, it is not a show. So don't expect it to flow smoothly. You may find the juxtapositions of the various versions a little unnerving, but if you can handle it, and if you are the kind of person who enjoys the backstory behind the success, this DVD is for you, and you'll not regret purchasing it.
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