The new lords have arrived and they're dangerously good
After 21 years of spectacular foot-tapping magic, the original Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley, has gone. His last appearance was in July 2015 at the London run of the brand new Riverdance phenomenon - Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games.
Flatley has passed the Lordship on to a new generation of nobility. Judging by their spectacular performance at the opening night in Melbourne on Wednesday 30 September, the primary lords - James Keegan, Morgan Comer and Mathew Smith - will carry and nurture the flame well.
In 1994 Flatley's original creation, Riverdance, stormed the world stage and attracted criticism for deviating from its Irish Dance roots. The same critics would be truly horrified at this new evolution.
Better referred to as an Irish dance fusion, the spectacularly fast footwork of the incredibly talented cast melded together elements of ballet, Irish dance, acrobatics and Star Wars-esque flavours to create a mind-blowing theatre experience.
A stunning fusion of Irish Dance, ballet and acrobatics
Michael Flatley is not, however, entirely absent from the Australian tour. His recorded appearance in a complicated dance routine, projected as an animated digital triptych towards the end of the show, seemed a little cheeky of him, though in keeping with his Lordship's character through the years. Still shaking our heads in wonder at the athleticism, coordination and sheer showmanship of the next generation cast, we couldn't help but acknowledge that they can barely hold a candle to the brilliance of Flatley's footwork.
The entire set construction consisted of a platform and staircase. Digital sets were projected against the backdrop to transport the dancers all the way from Irish waterfalls and unicorns through to futuristic war robots and spaceships and onto a post-apocalyptic fiery wasteland.
Not being the kind of person to buy a program, I'm unsure what the official narrative was, which is the way I like it.
Our introduction was of a digital Michael Flatley helping a young boy to move the hands of time forwards. Following this, a recap of the highs, lows, struggles, roadblocks and victories faced by Flatley and his company over the years. Their ultimate reward - sold out shows all over the world.
While depicting ballerinas, seduction, good versus evil, sprites with flutes, dancing robots and frightening half-humans, the meta-narrative was clear. This was the journey of Flatley himself through a lifetime of professional dancing.
The little blue sprite, a miniature, agile acrobat complete with flute, represented Flatley's dream. Throughout the narrative he nurtured his dream and worked to make it become a reality. Jealous adversaries tried to destroy his dream and snap her flute, but he rescued her and restored her to her rightful place.
Later, when all appeared lost - he was stripped of his title Lord of the Dance and was trapped, broken, battered and usurped by another - his dream came to spirit him away and give him the strength to fight and regain his Lordship title.
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games has all the elements we expect of this Irish dance fusion phenomenon - incredible toe-tapping fancy footwork, violinists jumping out and serenading us with Irish folk tunes and echoes of Eire. The echoes, however, have become fainter through the years as the Lord of the Dance matures and secedes to imaginations of the next generation of talented dance artists.
The violins - one of the last vestiges of pure Riverdance