Riverdance stars inspire Ukrainian refugees

Kristina Bondarenko and Riverdance dancers
Kristina Bondarenko (centre) began teaching herself Irish dancing six years ago

Ukrainian refugees, who have developed a love for Irish dancing, have been treated to a workshop from members of the Riverdance cast in Dublin.

Professional dancers Jason O'Neill from Belfast and Emma Mannion from Roscommon visited a weekly dance class in Rathmines Ukrainian Community Centre on Wednesday.

Kristina Bondarenko, aged 17, began teaching herself Irish dancing six years ago using online videos.

The schoolgirl, who is originally from Odesa, moved to Ireland with her mother following the outbreak of war last year.

"It was so unexpected, it was really exciting. It was so, so nice," said Kristina.

"We were delighted to see real professionals, real Riverdance dancers, it was so good."

The teenager, who attends St Joseph's College in Lucan, aspires to become a professional Irish dancer herself and trains for one hour every day.

"In Ukraine I see Riverdance only on TV or the internet but I have seen the Riverdance performance three times in Ireland, so I was delighted to see them, it was so brilliant."

Michael Flately and Riverdance dancers
Michael 'Lord Of The Dance' Flately choreographed the first Riverdance production

Riverdance first appeared during the 1994 Eurovision interval in Dublin.

The act, which lasted seven minutes, instantly catapulted choreographer and dancer Michael Flately to international fame.

Its success at Eurovision saw it extended into a full-length show, which opened at Dublin's Point Theatre the following year.

Mr O'Neill and Ms Mannion are part of the troupe starring in a 25th anniversary show at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.