Maggie Revis, native to Putnam Valley, New York, took to the stage in Belgium this past winter for her debut as the female lead dancer in Michael Flatley’s "The Lord of the Dance."
Born into a family of competitve dancers, Maggie began her dance career at the age of three and secured her first win at the Mid-Atlantic American Oireachtas (Regional) Dance Competition in Philadelphia by the age of six. She continued to compete until 2004 when she traveled to England fresh out of college to begin rehearsals as a dancer in Flatley’s "Celtic Tiger."
Now five years into her professional career, Maggie shines as the star in "Lord of the Dance," which since its premiere performance in 1996 has enjoyed the highest success rate of any professional Irish dance touring company.
The thrillingly dramatic show filled with Irish dance and music, based on a folklore story of good and evil, was created by Michael Flatley to follow up the "Riverdance" phenomenon. The initial inspiration for the show was an a cappella dance Flatley envisioned during his time with "Riverdance" which would later become the new show’s finale, “Planet Ireland.”
The Revis family Irish step-dancing legacy
Irish America magazine sat down with Maggie in her hometown in Putnam County, after just wrapping up her European tour.
In a house complete with an array of Celtic music and a practice stage in the basement, courtesy of Maggie’s father, Fred, of German descent, the Revis’ Irish step-dancing roots are undeniable. Maggie’s mother, Cathy, started her own dance school at a young age, which would be Maggie’s second home and her introduction into the world of step-dancing.
“My mother growing up was an incredible Irish dancer, and when she became a dancing teacher and judge it was only natural for her kids to follow in her footsteps. … People who have watched me dance say I have her same style and stage presence,” Maggie said.
Growing up in her mother’s dance school, Maggie, her sister Katie, and brother Freddy (though he may deny it now) embraced step-dancing immediately. “My sister and I were always very active and loved Irish music, so we would just come to class and dance about with the other kids.”
When Cathy sold her school to focus on a nursing career, Maggie’s training fell into the hands of Kevin Broesler, who took over the school. “That was when I started to compete. It became my after-school sport. Some people played soccer, I danced every day.”
Kevin Broesler described Maggie as “an inspiration” in his Irish dance classes. “She was a great competitor and an enjoyable student. All the dancers in my class looked up to her.” Maggie danced for Kevin’s school throughout her competitive career.
Maggie's Irish roots
Tracing her Irish roots back to County Galway, the second-generation Irish American made her first trip to Ireland at the age of twelve when she competed for the first of many times in the All-Ireland and World Championships.
“In those early days of trips to Ireland, it was not just about going to compete. It was about meeting our relatives, eating tons of the amazing ice cream, and exploring the castles and ruins that we would pass along the road.”
Since those early years, Maggie has continued to visit Ireland to see family and friends, and while she has become very familiar with the sites and the people, she will not get behind the wheel on Irish roads. “I will never feel comfortable driving on the narrow roads or on the roundabouts ever again. I still won’t rent a car!”
Maggie’s grandmother, Nellie Spencer, now 92 years old, was born in Galway and immigrated to the U.S., bringing with her a passion for Irish culture, which she made sure to instill in her daughter and grandchildren.
“They didn’t have competitive Irish dancing when [my grandmother] was young,” Maggie said. “It was just mandatory that they learned basic steps and ceilis. Even now I don’t think my grandmother at 92 could dance a full, choreographed step, but she knows the basic posture and rhythms, and her gracefulness in dancing is something I would like to say she passed down through her daughter. She saw me perform with Michael Flatley at Madison Square Garden and she tearfully bragged about how she ‘started it all,’ and she is so right," Maggie said.
While her older sister Katie eventually left Irish dance for a career in competitive gymnastics and her brothers Freddy and Danny focused their energy on soccer, Maggie continued to pursue dance competitively for close to two decades.
In 2003, she reclaimed the title she held at six-years-old at the Oireachtas Regional Dance Competition in the senior ladies category. It was the following year when Maggie would achieve her career goal and win the North American Championship.