ID: 200600982 Title of the two Plays: 1) Lord of the Dance, 2) Feet of flames Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 Course

: FAAH 265 Introduction to Theater Lecturer: Sharif Abdunnur

Forever dancing in our hearts!
• Lord of the Dance

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the dance is a unique and magical show which took Irish tap dancing to a spectacular new level. Played in Dublin at the Point Theater this show has been touring the world for more than 10 years today and has visited major cities in the world. The show landed in Lebanon in July 2002 at the Baalbek international festival. The show is an Irish dance and musical production created, produced and directed by Michael Flatley who is the star of the show along with Bernadette Flynn, Gillian Norris and Daire Nolan. The show, inspired by the ancient Irish medieval myths and legends, tells the anecdote of Good an Evil in the Irish folklore. The show is a perfect knitting of music, dance, emotions and feelings The show is very energetic with multiples uses of contrasts and opposites. Contrast is a key element in this show. A contrast between male and female dancers created sexual energy in several dances such as in “Siamsa” and “Stolen Kiss”. A contrast of shades of lights and dark, good and evil , hard tap dancing ,traditional ballet and modern dance. The beat and pace of the show changed continuously. The show started energetically with the magnificent opener “Cry of the Celts” and then calmed and the tempo slowed with the soprano of “Erin the Goddess”. Another change of tempo in the play was in the “Gypsy” dance after the lively and solid dance of “The Warriors”. The music, created by the brilliant composer Ronan Hardiman, was one of the key success factors of this show. The soundtrack “Lord of the Dance” is one of the best “melodies” ever made. All “melodies” were exceptional but a few standout songs including the exceptional opener “Cry of the Celts” and the joyful clip “Siamsa”. Oriental touches were included in some of the dances such as “Gypsy” and “Hell’s Kitchen” where Flatley and Don Dorcha‘s confrontation was backed by oriental drum sounds (derbakkeh) . Thousands of viewers danced in their seats with all the marvelous tap dancing moves performed by the talented dancers on stage. The incessant sound of tap dancing percussively playing with the music amused and amazed the audience present that night. Tap sounds complemented the story, the songs and the actions. In the clip “Nightmare” the warriors’ taps were part of the escalating ambiance of the actions. The speed and


tempo of tapping varied continuously during the show, it escalated to crescendo on climax moments such as in “Warriors”, “Nightmare” and “the duel”. “Lord of the Dance” also featured two talented violinists, Mairead Nesbit and Cora Smyth, who started in playing their violins in “Strings of Fire”. They held the tempo of the show high but lightened a little bit offering and granting some entertaining, energizing modern and updated Irish tunes which pleased audiences. The two violinists wore funky black leather clothes similar to rock stars. They were successful in reviving the audience in their presence on stage in “Strings of Fire” and “Fiery Nights” and started clapping in the audience along to the beats. Anne Buckley, the elegant soprano singer, appeared 3 times during the show and performed excellently. She added a peaceful calm touch to the concert full of upbeat tunes. Buckley’s performance was excellent; she was successful in keeping the audience’s attention on her. She appeared in the same long Green velvet Robe. In addition, all sounds effects added to the beauty of the show. From the moment the bells toll, haunted cries and chants followed in the opening scene which declutched the curiosity of the listener and attracted all the attention in anticipation. Sounds of sparkling stars continued playing during the show. The stage had 5 long dangling cloth banners rich with Celtic logos and symbols and 6 large forts. Lights played an important role in the play and contributed greatly to the beauty of the stage. Colorful lightings were used in several clips to represent and to prepare the general mood. In the opener, Michael Flatley showed up in front of strong white lights arms outstretched waiting to start his dance. Lights also were superb in scenes such as “Siamsa” where all colorful lights were illuminating: red, white, yellow, blue and green… In “Dangerous Games” dark blue lights were signified the darkness which notified of bad upcoming events. The lights also constituted the major contrasting element in the show. Bernadette Flynn and Gillian Norris, both 17 years of age, co-starred with Michael Flatley. Flynn first appeared graciously on stage in “Celtic dream” in a dancing solo wearing a gold dress. She played “Saoirse the Irish Colleen” which was also the girl who represented the “good”. This act delivered the sensation of a fairytale princess dancing with angels. Her “ballet” skills and performance were enormous. She moved on the stage very confidently yet very smoothly and graciously. The impression of a dream was apparent in all the joyful calm colors the other dancers where wearing. In the “Breakout” Flynn lead a troupe of 15 female dancers in a mixing of ballet and tap dancing scene. Amazingly, she was able to stand on her tiptoes and tap at the same time. This was a representation of the innovative art Flatley had put on stage. She wore in this act a simple white dress representing the purity and the peacefulness of her character. Later on, still in the same act, the “breakout” of these calm ladies emerged. The simple dresses were removed and a hard shoe tap dancing act started. A troupe of ladies in black tops and shorts tapped solidly awaking the audience from the dream they were in.


Gillian Norris, who played the role of “Morrighan the Temptress”, embodied the symbol of evil in the show. Her red dress and dancing in the “Gypsy” act differentiated her from all the other dancers on stage. Her steps varied considerably from the other dancers who also performed on the same melody later in the show. The contrast of her red dress on her white skin and long curly “gypsy” hair created an interesting contrast. She fought with Flynn for Flatley’s love in the show seducing him with her dancing skills and with her looks. She put in an amazing show that some would describe as sexy, others as physical and gymnastic. She was the only dancer to be able to capture successfully the true feel free gypsy spirit. In acting terms, the best performer was Helen Egan who played the role of “The little Spirit”: A small girl in a gold costume. During the play, Egan plays on her flute/ whistle melodies at the start of some scenes. She played her instrument at the start of “Cry of Celts” and awakened the female dancers announcing the start of the show. Her presence was essential in the story. She also acted marvelously in “Dangerous games” where the dark lord stole her whistle. She was successful in showing that she was scared when imprisoned and tormented by the bad warriors. Her acting was also full of emotions, one can see in her eyes tears of joy when the lord of the dance gave her a new whistle. The ultimate star of the show is definitely the one and only “Michael Flatley”. He is the star, director and producer of this show. Flatley knows how to have fun when he’s on stage: He interacts with the crowd and he improvises some of his moves. The audience surely loves this. Flatley is the boss on stage. He is allowed to break all the rules. He waves his arms and giant fireworks erupt on stage. He snaps his fingers and the whole troupe reacts submissively. Unquestionably he is the reason the audience is present there. They all came to see the fastest tap dancer in the world, the guy who performs 35 taps per second. His simple appearance aroused the viewers. In “Cry of the Celts” and “Lord of the dance”, his appearance initiated great applauses in the audience. Flatley performed flawlessly in the show, he never seems to miss a tap. His solos in the show amazed the viewers. He is able to perform marvelous physical moves with the slightest amount of effort. This is apparent in his duel with the Don Dorcha in their battle where they perform the same moves. It just seems much easier for Flatley to execute them; he makes it look so simple.


Flatley appeared in several striking costumes. Flatley performed bare-chest with only his leather pants in the “Victory” scene with a headband. In the “warlords” scene he appeared in a full leather pant and bolero jacket with no shirt. The first act’s climax was reached at its end with the “Lord of the Dance” act. All the dancers were dressed in black and red. Flatley’s leather suit was also decorated with red, with the V sign on the back of his T-shirt. In this act he puts in a remarkable solo energizing and setting the crowd on fire. The essence of the show was at the end of “Lord of the dance” when Flatley grouped his troupe in one long horizontal line and all tapped together. One would feel excited watching a line of approximately 35 dancers all dancing harmoniously and precisely performing an outstanding back and forth tap. The most innovative and exciting part of the show was the duel where the two “lords” battle in their fight to death. A fight in dance, the universal language. No physical contact, but still one can see the high kicks of Flatley. Flatley’s energetic, and electric charged dance moves at high speeds amused the viewers. The audience granted Flatley several standing ovations for his final ending act “Planet Ireland”. Amazing lights—blue, yellow, red and other colorful lights—were on stage for the start of this act. Flatley orchestrated his troupe for this finale act and also performed the horizontal back and forth dancers move. The audience loved it so much, that the troupe repeated it 3 times. Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the dance” is the most critically celebrated dance music show in the world. The show has been seen by over 50million people in over 60 countries and broke several records. This is one spectacle which one should not miss. Of course watching it live would be a great opportunity but for those who did not have the chance the DVD’s production is still a great joy to watch.


Feet of flames

“Feet of Flames” was initially created as a one-off performance in London’s Hyde Park in 1998 as a stage “farewell” for Michael Flatley, and it was a one hell of a performance that night where thousands of viewers had a blast and ignited flames in their hearts. The original purpose of this show was a grand finale for the legendary “Lord of the Dance” which had been playing for 2 years successfully. A huge, flamboyant set with enormous shields created a vast 200-foot wide stage dance floor for hundreds of dancers. The stage had also 3 circular areas for feature moments and a huge high platform bridge. Two giant TV screens were set at both sides of the stage so that the audience wouldn’t miss a single tap. The basic plot of “Lord of the dance” remained but was expanded and polished for a much greater production in all aspects of music, dance and emotions. The show introduced for the first time Flatley’s new tapping shoes where the heels where shining silver, perfect for the observation of all the quick magical footwork. The whole show is based on Flatley’s new solo “Feet of flames” at the end of the concert. Flatley was successful in engaging the viewers with his charming look and greetings to the audience in his own way. Flatley wore a red glittery leather bolero jacket, a black hat and was bare chest. The dance was a capella, with innovative steps never seen before, it was a mix of all kinds of dance. His shoes burned and smoked from the speed of his moves in a humoristic way. The viewers’ long wait for Flatley’s solo and signature move was worth every moment of it. His exit was also remarkable in a magical ball of fire which exploded. Another act that stood out in that show was the unforgettable “Planet Ireland” which was a pure pleasure to the eye. The finale which left the audience full of energy.111 dancers tapped precisely and simultaneously on the beats of an energetic tune on the world’s largest dance stage. Lights illuminated the giant stage rhythmically in different colors of red, green and yellow. Flatley wore his red sparkling jacket and the dancers were lined behind him horizontally. Instead of having all the dancers on a single horizontal line, they were on different higher levels performing the show on moving platforms. This was a very challenging dance in which the dancers performed marvelously. All 3 levels were hydraulically elevated. In addition, Flatley did add dancers on the fourth level on the bridge.


The escalation of these platforms allowed the formation of the Irish flag in a brilliant technical achievement. The Irish flag appeared also several times during the show: Anne Buckley wore a dress with the three colored stripes of the Irish flag (Orange , white and green). Michael Flatley also wore “the flag jacket” in “Celtic Fire” which had on the right the American flag with stars and on the left the colors of the Irish flag. Flatley also showed his musical skills in a haunting flute solo in “Whistling Wind”. This was the first time Flatley had taken the center of the stage and played an instrumental music on his own. He was successful in creating sensual moments. Another sensational emotional moment in the show was the kiss, the “Stolen Kiss”, by Flatley with Bernadette Flynn. Also the second kiss in the “Victory” scene was full of emotions and magnificent. It represented the victory of love, the victory of good versus evil. Flynn was also perfect in her performance, she moved on the stage confidently, elegantly and graciously. Flatley thinks that no one in the world can move like her. She was amazing in the newly added scene “Saoirse: Dance of Love” dressed in a feminine white and black sparkling outfit. She presented the greatest female solo in the show along with Flatley playing the flute. On the other hand, Gillian Norris looked more dangerous. She symbolized the fire, the evil. She knows when to add the sex appeal to the dance in her amazing pink leopard body suite in “Entracte”. Helen Egan’s tears flowed down to her cheeks when Flatley gave her a whistle. She engaged herself so deeply in her character. Flatley says about her that “she is the thread that pulls the show altogether”.1 Daire Nolan played the dark lord “Don Dorcha” spectacularly. His performance improved significantly from the other “Lord of the Dance” shows. He took his pieces to a whole new level. He used to be a little bit tentative, now he takes over the stage solidly, confidently and leads his troupe of warriors in the battle. Nolan appeared very powerful, a true leader and villain. In the scene “Warriors” he starts with a distinguished solo dance which the audience really liked. Several magic tricks amazed the audience during the show. Flatley disappeared numerous times such as in “The nightmare” where he disappeared from the top of stairs and then erupted from a globe of fire astonishingly. Also the end of the opener “Cry of the Celts” included the disappearance of Flatley in a magical trick.


The making of Feet of Flames, “ Michael Flatley’s Feet of Flames” DVD


In comparison with the original “Lord of the dance” show, much of the alteration was in the costumes. Upgraded costumes with updated fabrics were used throughout the show along with more lively and vibrant colors. In “Cry of the Celts”, Flatley is dressed in a brilliant blue color decorated with gold stripes. The blue clothes matched the blue warrior paintings on his face. He also wore in that scene a gold Tshirt and a gold armband. Helen Egan, the little spirit, sparkled in gold in “Feet of Flames” from head to foot. In “Planet Ireland”, more than 100 dancers were costumed in modern suits; girls in short silver suits and men in silver suits with a black belt. Don Dorcha and his men also enjoyed an update of their costumes in “Feet of Flames”. An obvious difference between the two shows is the grandiose production of “Feet of Flames”. As previously mentioned, this show was intended to be a one time “farewell” performance for Michael Flatley, so he decided to gather his troupes all in one single show with over a hundred dancers. Another “numerical” statistical term that shows the greatness of this production is the size of the stage in Feet of Flames which was approximately over 200feet constituting the biggest outdoor dance stage of the biggest dance show in the world. More than 25,000 viewers were present on July 1998 at Hyde Park London; whereas a couple of thousands were present at the Point Theater in Dublin. A big challenge was the build up and design of the outdoor stage and to make it stand out. Flatley himself had designed the stage a year before the show. The stage had hydraulic moving platforms which elevated the dancers in the finale “Planet Ireland” Another evolution was the entrance of the warriors on the sloping ramps at both sides of the stage which can be raised and lowered. The lighting was much richer in “Feet of Flames” than in “Lord of the Dance”. Livelier and joyful colors were used in “Siamsa” and “Planet Ireland”. For all the audience present it felt like a massive party to which they have all been invited, very different than anything they have already seen before. In addition, much more lights were used to illuminate the stage in several other scenes such as “Victory” and “Lord of the Dance”. Music evolved in “Feet of Flames” and a some musicals scenes were added to the show such as “Celtic Fire”. The flute solo has also been included in the new show. Some dances such as “the duel” became longer in time. Also the battle became more powerful with increased tension by both parties. Lord of the dance gets high-kicked to the ground by the dark lord. Little Spirit played her magical tunes and Flatley retrieved


his strength and defeated Don Dorcha in one amazing battle. The battle ended with the magical explosion and disappearance of Don Dorcha the looser.

Most of all the best addition to the show and the one which had the greatest impact was Michael Flatley’s final awaited solo “Feet of Flames” from which the name of the show came from. Dressed in his familiar black leather pants and his new silver shining boots, Flatley put in an amazing breathtaking performance leaving the crowd speechless all thinking about Flatley who will be forever dancing in their hearts.