Padraic Moyles, who has been a Riverdance performer for 14 years, calls this season’s final United States tour “bittersweet.”
The Irish step-dancing show returns to Columbus on Saturday at the Bill Heard Theatre in RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
While the show is ending its North American tour, he’s excited that he’ll be able to perform in places he’s never been -- South Africa, India, China and South America.
“Instead of opening a new company, it’s time to go into countries we’ve never been,” he said.
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That said, Moyles said it’s easy to tour in America because “of the language, because of the food.”
“I’ve toured all over the world and the most fun is in America,” he said. “The audience knows exactly when and where to clap. On the nights where you’ve given more, you feel that back from the audience.”
Moyles, whose first name is pronounced POOR-ic, says he’ll keep dancing as long as he enjoys it. “As long as I have the drive and determination. I’m always searching and seeking ways to stay on top. I practice to get strong.”
He’s never completely happy with his performance. “I always want to get better,” he said. “I’m constantly trying to find ways to be sharper, either mentally or physically.”
He says it’s easy to stay sharp in Riverdance because new, younger dancers are always joining the company.
“When the new kids come in, it becomes a very healthy, competitive” time. Besides, he’s the one who trains “the new boys as they come in. That pushes me to be better.”
Besides dancing, he has to do regular strength and conditioning work.
He said after about eight weeks off for the holidays in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, he returned to New York City to do the workouts to get ready for Riverdance’s final tour of the United States.
On those rare times when he has time off, he spends his time in Dublin to catch up with his family.
When he had most of November and December off, he says “I was itching to get back on stage after two or three weeks.”
To keep in shape, he spends time in dance studios and gyms. Dancing in a studio doesn’t compare to being on stage in front of thousands of people, though.
“You don’t get the response from the audience,” he said.
At 32, Moyles says his stage dancing days will come to an end before too much longer.
“I’m looking into things,” he said, including becoming a choreographer or an Irish dance teacher. Sports psychology is something that interests him. He wants to say in “the business,” so he might explore the business side of entertainment.
“I want to learn all of the performing aspects and producing aspects,” Moyles said. “There are so many aspects of business I don’t understand. I want to learn every ounce of the business.
“I want to be smarter.”
Moyles started dancing as a young child.
He was 3 years old when his sister, Julia, was taking an Irish dance class. He followed her around and copied all the steps.
After his parents noticed, they enrolled him in the dance school as well.
His brothers, Kieran and Sean both took dance lessons, but they gave it up, as did Julie.
As he grew up, he was torn between soccer and dance. The other boys made fun of him and he was ready to quit dancing.
Luckily, he said his parents intervened and made him stay in dance classes.
“They made the right decision,” he said.
But even today, if there’s a big lawn or park, you might find Moyles kicking a soccer ball around.
“I’m very, very passionate about sports,” Moyles said. “I play whenever I can.”
He has to be careful not to get too competitive in his pick-up soccer games, and the people he plays with are good about keeping Moyles’ injury free.
“They’re very, very careful, and so am I,” he said. “But with risk comes great rewards, right? Dancing is my life but I don’t want to be my only life. I do have a good time.
“You might see us around for a kickaround.”
Moyles is married to Niamh O’Connor, the only original Riverdance dancer still performing in the show.