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LI troupers make Radio City debut with Riverdance

Ryan McCarthy, left, from Uniondale and Jillian Farmer

Ryan McCarthy, left, from Uniondale and Jillian Farmer from Bellmore will be at Radio City Music Hall performing in the farewell tour of "Riverdance" March 17-21, 2010.

When Riverdance, the world brand in Irish dancing, returns to Radio City Music Hall this week, it'll be a St. Patrick's Day homecoming for two Long Islanders who've known since they were wee ones the difference between a jig and a reel.

The Dublin-based company that stomped its way to fame in 1995 is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a "farewell tour." (Don't count on it. Some of the dancers say they expect to continue another year or so.)

Whether it's your last chance to see Riverdance, it's the first chance for friends and family of the two Long Island troupers to see them at Radio City. We interviewed each about their music hall debut.

RYAN McCARTHY

Forgive him if he's jet-lagged on opening night. McCarthy, a Hofstra grad who grew up in Uniondale, is returning from a South Korean tour. "Anytime a local would ask why we were in Seoul, I told them I was in Riverdance. The normal reaction is, 'Oh, Riverdance!' I found it amazing how the word is so internationally known."

McCarthy discovered Irish dancing at age 11, during a Riverdance pledge-week broadcast on WLIW / 21. "My parents told me that this style of dancing is part of our culture," he recalls. He studied at Levittown's Schade Academy of Irish Dance for a decade, joining Riverdance in 2007.

"It's a dream come true," he says of his Radio City debut. "I remember seeing the show for their 10th anniversary. Never could I have imagined I would be dancing on that stage five years later."

He says 40 friends and family will be attending.

JILLIAN FARMER

Though it was a hobby at first, Farmer, who's from Bellmore, was attracted to Irish dancing at a very tender age. "When I was about 5," she says, "we went to the Catskills and I saw Irish dancing for the first time. I loved it. My grandmother arranged classes for me." Farmer also studied at the Schade Academy, becoming a Riverdancer at age 20. She's toured off and on for five years while completing her elementary education degree at Baltimore's Loyola University.

Life after Riverdance? "I'd like to open my own Irish dancing school."

"It's huge," Farmer says of her Radio City premiere. "I'll have people there for all eight performances," she says. "That means extra butterflies for me. It's something I'll probably talk about the rest of my life."

WHAT Riverdance: 15th Anniversary Farewell Tour

WHEN | WHERE 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday at Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Ave., Manhattan

INFO $39.50 to $129.50; ticketmaster.com, 631-888-9000

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