OMG School of Irish Dance’s Ronan Kristufek joins Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance

By Maureen Callahan

Local resident Ronan Kristufek is currently performing on the world stage. After landing a spot on the high-energy Lord of the Dance North American show tour, he will dance in 36 cities over seven weeks.

Kristafuk advises students to dance “because they love it, not for honors.”
Photo by Andrea Waala

Kristufek got his start at 9 years old at Onórach Mulhern Geraghty Academy (OMG) School of Irish Dance in Westmont. He now teaches there.

Kristufek has competed at 7 World Irish Dance Championships. While this wildly talented young man loves the stage, his other great passion is teaching. “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing students learn and progress,” Kristufek smiled.

The performer sat down with Hinsdale Magazine’s Contributing Editor, Maureen Callahan, before leaving for his whirlwind tour.

How did you become part of Lord of the Dance?

A lot of it had to do with the dance resumé I have built over the last few years. I’ve competed quite a bit. The Lord of the Dance show director had seen me dance at a few competitions. I had reached out to him simultaneously to inquire about the show, too. So, it was a combination of effort on both sides.

I danced in Feet of Flames, another Michael Flatley show, in Taiwan last November. It went well. After that show, I was offered a part in the Lord of the Dance North America tour, which kicked off in early February.

How do you practice/train for the show?

The choreographers give us the dances to study at home. I practice about an hour or two a day to learn the steps. You are expected to know 100% of what you’re doing on the first day you arrive. I’m lucky to be a fast learner.

There are 1 or 2 days of practice before the show starts, but that’s just for fine tuning. There is one male and one female dance captain and a creative director. They’re there to critique you. In the end, everyone wants to put on a great show, so veteran cast members are very helpful to newer ones.

What happens if a dancer gets injured?

There’s a physical therapist who travels with the show that is available to anyone who needs them. The dancers are in very good shape, almost like professional athletes, but something could always happen. If a dancer has to be out for just a couple of shows, someone on the cast can usually fill in.

There are also several understudies who know the numbers in case someone must be out for a few days. If it goes longer than that, there are “reserve” dancers who can fill in.

How do you stay energized for a show that length?

Lord of the Dance has a running time of about two to two and a half hours. Most of the time, it doesn’t seem as exhausting until you look back at what you’ve been doing the last few hours!

With a show like that, there’s an energy that comes from the audience, too. At times, you’re breathing heavily, but the artistry of the show definitely pushes you forward.

What advice would you have for dancers following a similar path?

Obviously, it’s very important to listen to your teachers and practice. I am blessed to have the Mulherns as teachers. They’re the best around. In addition to teaching me, they also helped nurture the love I have for Irish dance.

My best advice would be to always remember what you love about Irish dance and keep it as your focus. I passed through some years of competition when I didn’t necessarily win a lot. But I kept at it because I loved it. So, don’t give up on yourself when you get frustrated. Dance because you love it.

OMG students, Ronan Kristafuk and Libby Carty, at the 2023 Irish Dance World Championships