Friday 22 February 2019

'I got emotional' - joy at reaction to Ryan dancers

Ireland’s Alan McGrath and Kevin O’Dwyer
Ireland’s Alan McGrath and Kevin O’Dwyer

Ireland's Eurovision backing dancers say they have been "overwhelmed" by messages from LGBT teens across Europe since their performance in the semi-final.

Ryan O'Shaugnessy's stage show is the first in the contest's 63-year history to feature a same-sex couple.

While Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by public vote in 2015, many nations competing in Eurovision still have a poor LGBT rights record.

The Herald reported earlier this week that the Chinese broadcaster of Eurovision had edited out the Irish performance because of its depiction of a gay relationship.


Ryan O’Shaugnessy is flying the flag for Ireland in Eurovision
Ryan O’Shaugnessy is flying the flag for Ireland in Eurovision

Last night the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced that it was cutting ties with the channel as a consequence.

"This is not in line with the EBU's values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music," it said in a statement.

The emotive dance routine in the Irish act has been a hit with Eurovision fans.

Dancers Alan McGrath (25) and Kevin O'Dwyer (24) were inundated with messages from teenagers struggling with their sexuality.

"We've had such touching messages from people around Europe who aren't out, or who are in the closet," Alan said.

"It's a great thing because Kevin and I were both at that point in our lives at some stage. It's great to be able to send out a positive message."

Ryan pushed to include the ground-breaking dance performance on stage, as he wanted to show that love is universal.

The dancing duo said they didn't expect the standing ovation they received from the audience during Tuesday's semi-final.

"I wasn't sure if there was going to be maybe a small reaction, but when I heard it I got really emotional," Alan said.

When the pair filmed the song's hugely popular video in Temple Bar they said they were still in the dark over whether they would be needed in Lisbon.

"We knew it was in talks, but until we saw the reaction to the video we weren't sure," said Kevin.

Despite their tender years, the duo are two of Ireland's most experienced professional dancers.

As well as backing Ryan Dolan in Eurovision 2013, Alan went on a year-long American tour with Celtic Woman, and recently performed on TV3's Ireland's Got Talent.

The Eurovision final takes place tomorrow night, with coverage starting at 8pm on RTE One.

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