Joanne Doyle

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Joanne Doyle
Born 1973 (age 44–45)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Irish dancer
Years active 1995–2005
Former groups Dualta, Riverdance
Dances Irish stepdance

Joanne Doyle (born 1973) is a former professional Irish dancer who is most famous for her lead role in Riverdance. In her 10 years with Riverdance, Doyle became the longest-serving lead in the show's history and danced in over 2,500 performances.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Lucan, Dublin, Doyle started dancing at the age of three and won several bronze, silver and gold medals at Irish and World Championships.[2][3] After graduating from Mount Sackville Secondary School in nearby Chapelizod, Doyle began a Masters in European Social Policy where she was required to study at a different university for each semester. In early 1994, she moved to Ljubljana to study in Slovenia. It was at this time that Riverdance performed their seven-minute interval act at the Eurovision Song Contest. Being aware of the performance, she convinced a local pub to put it on the television. Her good friend, Breandán de Gallaí, was one of the troupe members that night and it was only because of her university commitments that Doyle herself did not audition for a role in the performance.[4]


Early years[edit]

Upon completing her studies, Doyle returned to Dublin with the goal of joining Riverdance for their first full-length show. Dancing alongside Breandán de Gallaí with their dance company Dualta, Doyle gained recognition from Riverdance lead Michael Flatley. She subsequently bypassed the rigorous auditions that others were put through and joined the show's troupe for rehearsals just eight months after the Eurovision Song Contest interval act. She went on to dance in the show's opening night performance at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 9 February 1995.[4] For Doyle, it was the start of a long and successful career with Riverdance as she quickly rose up the ranks.[4]

In November 1995, Doyle was named a principal understudy to lead female dancer Jean Butler. Learning the trade from Butler, Doyle went on to do her first show as the lead in London on 29 January 1996. However, she tore a cartilage in her knee on 10 February and subsequently missed out on performing in the show's first overseas tour in March 1996 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.[4] Later that year, Riverdance divided into two companies which later grew into three. Doyle and Breandán de Gallaí paired up as lead dancers of the Liffey company which toured Europe and Asia.[2][5]

Later years[edit]

In 2002, Doyle featured in the third Riverdance live recording instalment as she danced the lead alongside Breandán de Gallaí in Geneva, Switzerland. In June 2003, she performed at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics at Croke Park, Dublin.[6] In October 2003, Riverdance became the largest international production ever to hit China with multiple sell out performances in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.[7] Doyle performed the lead alongside Conor Hayes in what was a market break through for the show.[8]

Doyle stopped performing full-time for Riverdance in late 2003 and moved to France with her partner. She continued on with the show for two more years as part of the Riverdance Flying Squad who do occasional shows.[9] As lead for the Avoca company, she performed in France throughout 2005 before finally retiring from touring at the end of the year.[10][11]


In October 2005, Doyle got engaged to French restaurant owner Pierre Sansonetti.[12][13]


  1. ^ Myall, Steve (17 March 2013). "Riverdance to head back to UK for 20th anniversary". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Riverdance – Biographies". Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Interview with Joanne Doyle". Archived from the original on 22 June 2015. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Szabo, Alex (January 2002). "JOANNE DOYLE: Life With Dance". Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Europe of Cultures – Riverdance". (in French). 16 April 1999. Retrieved 11 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Riverdance at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics, Dublin 2003". YouTube. 26 November 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Major tour of China – 2012 / 2013". 6 November 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Riverdance: Live from Beijing (2003)". YouTube. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  9. ^ Wynne, Fiona (30 January 2004). "Love walked away from me as I was dancing all over the world". The Mirror. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Riverdance on French TV". 23 October 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  11. ^ "Joanne Doyle". Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Riverdance Romance onstage in Paris!". 19 October 2005. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  13. ^ Moreau, Charlotte (20 October 2005). "Demande en mariage en direct à la fin de Riverdance". Le Parisien (in French). Retrieved 22 June 2015.

External links[edit]