Michael and Matthew were always destined for the stage. Or so their grandmother believed anyway!
The dancers, better know as their TikTok name The Gardiner Brothers, were born to Irish parents in Denver, Colorado over in America. Their parents wanted them to know their culture and enrolled them in Irish dancing lessons early on in life.
“We’ve been dancing ever since,” Matthew tells VIP Magazine with a laugh.
This may have been due to the fact that their grandmother sent their father a newspaper clipping of Riverdance’s debut at the 1994 Eurovision. The image of Michael Flatley on that stage instilled a passion in the boys from a young age.
“Riverdance has always been the dream. We’ve always had the ambition to do that lead role that Michael Flatley originated all those years ago,” Michael tells us.
“Our parents wanted their kids to have a bit of Irish culture. My grandmother actually sent our dad a newspaper of Riverdance the day after the Eurovision in 1994. So it was always something they wanted their kids to do. It was such a big phenomenon at the time. And it still is,” he explained.
“We were always on the competition scene.”
@gardinerbrothers Just dance 😉🔥 #ladygaga #fyp #irish ♬ Just Dance – Lady Gaga
Then in 2006, the boys’ lives changed when their parents decided to move home to Galway.
Matthew tells us, “We had a bit of a culture shock when we moved back!”
Michael adds, “The dancing helped us through the move. It was such a big change. The dancing was the only constant.”
Both brothers are nothing but praise for the dance school that they attended the Hession School.
“It’s thanks to them that we have 40 major titles, including five World Titles between us.”
Over the course of lockdown the boys couldn’t perform in front of an audience, so they turned to social media. Almost immediately they went viral, as of now they have 2.2 million followers.
“Before TikTok, we had a Facebook and Instagram but they were so small. We always wanted to do something with social media and we were able to do that on TikTok. We didn’t set a goal to get a certain amount of followers but it was just something we wanted to do to keep ourselves busy during lockdown. It helped keep us fit, but mentally and physically,” Michael explains bashfully.
With Matthew adding, “We wanted to show people Irish dancing could be cool and modern. And we wanted to inspire other people to keep dancing.”
Of course, their journey started thanks to Riverdance back in the nineties. It was their dream to get on that stage and that dream became a reality in 2015 when they both auditioned for the iconic dance company.
Michael tells us, “I did my first show in 2015, we were both in the flying squad which means that we did one off shows and events as part of Riverdance. I started touring in 2016, I was finishing my degree at the time. After my third year I took a break from college and went touring, I went back and finished my degree in 2019. Then I went back on the road. Matthew finished his degree in 2020.”
Although Matthew also auditioned alongside his brother, he was forced to step back due to his own studies.
@gardinerbrothers Electrically charged ⚡️ #acdc #fyp #creative ♬ Back In Black – AC/DC
“I auditioned in 2015 but I was still in secondary school so I had to finish that before I went touring. I ended up finishing my degree while doing short-term stints with Riverdance. I was meant to go on my first tour in 2020 but it was obviously cancelled so my first tour was 2021.”
Of course, being a part of Riverdance in any type of way is truly a privilege for both brothers but their biggest “honour” came this year.
“On the last tour, we were both honoured to be chosen to audition for that lead role. It was 10 weeks training process and the audition was halfway through the tour. We were so honoured that both of us were successful. I got to do my first lead in Boston and Matthew did his in Chicago which was very special,” Michael explains.
Before adding, “Every time we step on the stage it’s so incredible. There are only 30 dancers in the world that get to be in Riverdance. It is an honour and privilege.”
As for what’s next for the Gardiner brothers? More Riverdance! They will be spending the summer here in Ireland performing in the 25th-anniversary show in The Gaiety Theatre.
They also have something up their sleeves for their own personal brand with Michael hinting, “For Gardiner Brothers we have some exciting things coming up but we can’t talk about them yet. We think everyone is going to love them.”