Since its official debut in 1996 at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance has cast a spell all over the world. Seen by over 60 million people in 60 different countries, it has broken records worldwide and is now the biggest grossing tour in entertainment history. Now aged 55, Irish-American dancer and flautist Flatley perseveres to keep the classic Irish step dancing in the mainstream as creator, producer and choreographer of his newest show Dangerous Games.
Essentially it is a classic, simple tale of good versus evil based on Irish folklore. The Little Spirit, played by petite World Gymnastics champion Alice Upcott, dreams up the story in which the Dark Lord threatens her untainted world, before the Lord of the Dance and his Chieftains defeat evil in an impressive dance-off battle. He also manages to resist the sultry seductress Morrighan, charismatically danced by Aimee Black, choosing sweet and pure Saoirse, played by Caroline Gray.
James Keegan completely embodied the Lord of the Dance, demonstrating his impeccable talent as well as an obvious and inherent love for dance. His captivating performance and astonishingly quick footwork was nothing short of brilliant. The duel fight dance routine between the Lord of the Dance and the Dark Lord (powerfully played by Tom Cunningham) offered strength and intensity, showcasing both men’s clear ability.
The dancing is interspersed with gifted fiddlers Giada Constenaro Cunningham and Valerie Gleeson, accompanied by Nadine Coyle, girl-group Girls Aloud singer, who performs Gerard Fohy’s songs throughout. Both acts were enjoyable enough, but the audience were understandably keen to return to the magic of traditional Irish dance.
Much of the design of the show has been totally redone to create a futuristic look that longstanding fans would not recognise. With state-of-the-art lighting and pyrotechnics, new sets and a near-3D look using clever digital projections, the production team have successfully managed to modernise a fundamentally old-fashioned show.
The sheer joy and elation amongst the audience members during the company members was incredible; the percussive, rhythmical sound of the dancers’ shoes in unison excited them tremendously. This was nothing, however, compared to the delight when Michael Flatley himself performed the last two numbers of the show with his cast, before an innovative projection of three Flatleys danced for the cheering crowd.
It is the iconic routines that define this show. The technical side of the show was impressively executed but in the end it was the skill of the dancers that shone.
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is playing at the London Palladium until 25 October, before continuing its world tour. For more information and tickets, see the Lord of the Dance website.