Posted in dance, musical theater, theater

Michael Flatley plans his retirement

Irish dance is a competitive activity, almost like a sport, you might say.

Michael Flatley in "Lord of the Dance." Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments
Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance.” Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments

Michael Flatley, whose Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is at the Lyric Theatre through January 3rd, made Irish dance a destination entertainment with his Riverdance some 20 years ago.  Flatley has had world-wide success with the Irish dance shows he conceives, creates choreographs, directs. From New York, Lord… is moving onto stages around the world, including the Crocus in Moscow in April. In June, Lord… will go to Cork and Dublin.

Irish dance is percussive in the tradition of clog, flamenco, and tap, but it’s often shown off, like ballroom, in competition. Many members of the Lord… cast have won national and  international contests. It’s easy to see why.

While the rat-tat-tat of the taps on the heels, soles, tips of the shoes are an amazing effect, it is when the choreography allows the dancers to move quietly through the same intricate steps without the tapping that we are fully immersed in how skillful the movement is. The peace of those moments when we watch in awe at the nimble feet of the cast is sublime.

Michael Flatley in "Lord of the Dance." Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments
Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance.” Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments

In Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, Flatley is creating a grand myth. To be mythic, good must triumph. Evil uses brute force and ruse. It is an uneven battle. Flatley’s mythologizing is uneven. It’s not til the second act the Dark Lord fights the Lord of the Dance. The scenic and lighting designs (by Paul Normandale, with video projections created by JA Digital and visuals by Fractured Pictures) provide magical settings from the bucolic to the demonic. The bucolic includes projections of unicorns and rainbows in an Ireland worthy of the world of Finian’s Rainbow and in which we expect leprechauns to appear. The design is splashy and spectacular as are the costumes of the dancers.

The hologram of three Flatley challenging each other is wonderful. Flatley shows off some truly superb footwork.

Michael Flatley in "Lord of the Dance." Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments
Michael Flatley in “Lord of the Dance.” Photo Credit: Brian Doherty for Rapa Investments

In Lord…, Flatley does nothing by half-measures.

The music is composed for the show by Gerard Fahy who imbues his original tunes for Lord… with the sounds of Ireland. During the interval, we are regaled by  the familiar Danny Boy; the pipes they are a-callin’, but for the show itself the songs sound like but are unlike the expected.

Along with the fantastic dance cast, there are two lovely violinists–fiddlers in the Irish dance parlance– Giada Costenero Cunningham and Valerie Gleeson, who lead the troupe in some numbers.

 

For more information about Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, please visit
http://www.lordofthedance.com/.

 

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