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First Black female step dancer joins ‘Riverdance’ tour

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
First Black female step dancer joins ‘Riverdance’ tour
Morgan Bullock is the first Black female dancer to perform in Riverdance. COURTESY PHOTO

The “Riverdance” 25th anniversary show comes to Boston May 10–15, and it features a very important cast member. Morgan Bullock is the first Black female dancer to grace the stage in the production, ushering in a new, more diverse chapter celebrating traditional Irish dance.

Bullock discovered Irish dancing at age 10 and was immediately drawn to the vibrant style, so unlike the jazz, tap and ballet she was used to. In 2017, she attended the Riverdance Summer School program here in Boston, a weeklong series of courses where “Riverdance” cast members teach up-and-coming dancers the moves from the show. This also serves as an informal audition, where the production team scouts talent.

But it was during the pandemic shutdowns when Bullock grabbed the attention of the “Riverdance” team with her TikTok videos mixing hip-hop and Irish dancing. Her step performance to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage Remix” was a particular viral hit. This tour is her stage debut with the production.

A performance of Riverdance. PHOTO: JACK HARTIN

Joining the troupe has been a lifelong dream for Bullock. “I found Riverdance on YouTube and it was love at first sight. I would watch the videos over and over. Just seeing a group of dancers dancing in perfect unison, it’s so powerful,” she says. Now she can experience the show from the performer side, where, she says, it’s just as exciting. “It has the same effect for us on stage.”

As a young dancer watching videos of the “Riverdance” company, Bullock never saw any performers who looked like her. Now she receives countless messages from young Black dancers and their parents, thanking her for bringing representation into the Irish dance space. “Just like other forms of dance, it’s a cultural art form that was created to be shared, and I think just being able to be representative of that is an honor for me,” says Bullock. She says the most rewarding part of the role has been seeing other young Black dancers feel comfortable signing up for Irish dance classes.

Bullock’s journey has truly come full circle. This summer, she’ll teach at the Riverdance Summer School in Boston where she cut her teeth on the company’s choreography. She says, “The fact that I could play a part in someone’s journey as an Irish dancer really means so much to me. That really put it into perspective that I’m not just doing this for me.”

In addition to opening doors for a new and more diverse generation of dancers, Bullock hopes the production brings joy to Boston audiences. She says, “The dancers on stage are having the time of their lives, and I hope that translates to the audience.”