It was a sad weekend for the family of Michael Flatley in Chicago after the sudden death of Michael’s father on Friday, but the Dominion Theatre in London’s West End was abuzz with excitement and energy at the weekend when the latest show ‘Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games’ opened its doors to the public.
Michael Flatley Senior, 87, was a native of Culfadda in Co. Sligo before immigrating to the US in 1947. Together with his wife, Elizabeth (a Co. Carlow native) they reared five children, including the Lord of the Dance himself.
Attending the opening weekend of ‘Dangerous Games’ was the highlight of my short weekend break to Britain's capital. Flatley never fails to excite with his high-energy, sexy, charismatic, theatrical shows.
His shows have a way of mesmerizing his audiences. His choreography is second to none and I mean none. He pushes the boundaries with sound, movement and dance and this show was no different, dare I say, his best work to date.
Towards the very end of the show the Lord of the Dance himself appeared, driving everyone to their feet. On a normal night this would happen at the mere sight of this Chicago genius, but Saturday night people stood to empathize with Flatley, knowing how hard it was for him to be there away from his family and there for his fans. We appreciated it more than he will ever know. It was clearly evident Flatley is very proud of his troupe, especially his lead dancer – the new Lord of the Dance – James Keegan, a Manchester native with parents from Co. Leitrim and Co. Roscommon. Flatley dedicated the very last dance to his dad and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The use of ground-breaking technology including dancing robots, world champion acrobats and one of my favorites on the night, holograms of Flatley himself (sometimes three of him at one time) drove the show into the future.
An exciting and dangerous score composed by Gerard Fahy married with vibrant costumes and special effects lighting kept the audience intrigued throughout, but even if you strip all that way (and please don’t) what really got us, what really made the hair stand up on the back of our necks, what really brought tears to our eyes and what really made our bodies move was seeing and hearing those unbelievably talented Irish dancers on stage.
That Irish jig! Man… it gets us every time – the hard sound of the Irish jig shoe connecting with the stage and transported over microphones throughout the theatre. It’s powerful. It’s more than powerful. It evokes emotions that haven’t been awoken in Michael Flatley in a long time. It made me feel proud to be Irish in a city full of tourists! The sound of this rapid fire, demanding tap evokes something in everyone. Both men and women can feel it.
That jig incorporated with those sexy, upper body movements and edgy rhythm patterns just works. This is why all the ‘Lord of the Dance’ shows sell out.
Parts of the show got steamy with heavy footed dance offs, men and women dancers forgoing their dance costumes for slightly less attire (driving the audience into a frenzy in a good way) and the worlds of good and evil colliding on stage in front of our eyes – good always winning in the end of course.
We are under no illusions that Michael Snr was proud of his wonderful son and we know he will continue to make him proud as the show tours the world. Flatley will be making a special appearance in London until March 24 and is hoping to also appear in Ireland and Belfast at the end of the month.
For tour dates and ticket information log on to www.lordofthedance.com