Since Michael Flatley tapped across the stage in that famous Eurovision Song Contest interval show Riverdance, Irish dance has gone from strength to strength.
He split from Riverdance after a time and went on to create his own spectacular Lord Of The Dance, which comes to the Opera House in its latest incarnation Dangerous Games, from June 9 to 11.
Someone who’s been with Lord Of The Dance since its early days, clocking up 17 years in the company is Tom Cunningham, who stars as the dark lord Don Dorcha in the show.
“Blackpool Opera House is fantastic, ” he said. “I remember from previous tours to Blackpool you get great crowds there all the time.
“And the size of the stage is fantastic for us. In some UK theatres you can be restricted, but at the Opera House it’s a big, deep stage, so you can let rip.
“Irish dancing is now famous for those big line ups, with the lead out front and everyone doing the same - beating out the same steps.
“It’s more effective on a nice big stage like the Opera House, we can scale it right up.”
Being on the road can be a wrench for many performers, spending months at a time away from home.
But not for Tom, as he met his wife, a musician with the show, at work.
“She’s Italian and went to see the show in Milan,” he said. “I think I was about 20 when she joined. We thank our lucky stars she came to see it.
“Her ambition after seeing it, with the fiddle players skipping round the stage, was to become part of the show. She went and learned a different way of playing, even starting a group up in Italy playing Irish music, and they auditioned for the show as they’d become amazing.
“You have 30 to 50 people on tour, working and living together, then relationships do build naturally.”
And while Tom, at 35, is in the ‘twilight years’ of his dancing career – welcoming the medical support to combat the stresses of the ‘intensity’ of Irish dance, they can’t quite call time on the dance as ‘there’s no age limit on the fiddle’.
“She loves it so much and always says ‘one more year’.”
So if the promise of 40 of the world’s best Irish dancers letting rip in the iconic Opera House, with new, costumes and choreography, all directed by the godfather of Irish dance Michael Flatley, excites you - don’t miss these dates.
* Lord Of The Dance, Blackpool Opera House, Tuesday to Thursday, June 9 to 11, call 0844 856 1111. Also at Manchester Opera House, Tuesday to Saturday, May 5 to 10, call 0844 871 3018.