Michael Flatley: Lord of the Dance. The name alone conjures up images of high-speed leg work and beyond-human tap routines — the kind that have you darting your eyes in every direction trying to follow the movement like a cat and yarn.
Flatley, 55, is the man behind it all. His journey began when he was dragged to dance lessons at age 11. Now, he’s a veteran choreographer and a pop culture icon. His repertoire spans decades of live shows, from Riverdance, Feet of Flames, Celtic Tiger to the world-famous Lord of the Dance that’s returning to the UAE this week.
Two years shy of its 20-year anniversary, it will be making its Dubai debut for two days only on March 27 and 28 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The show will feature 21 scenes, more than 40 dancers and a big serving of Irish folklore that tells the tale of good vs. evil.
Ahead of his performance, Flatley told tabloid! what the UAE crowd can expect and what the future holds for him.
The last time Lord of the Dance was in the UAE, it was in Abu Dhabi in 2010, just before you re-joined the tour in Europe. What made you decide to get back on stage?
I love dancing and with so many troupes on tour at the same time, it was difficult to decide when and where to join in. Sometimes I just cannot keep away from it!
Have you been to Dubai before?
I have been in Dubai with my family and we love it. Dubai has become one of the most visited places in the world and for good reason.
You’re known to keep things fresh. What changes can people expect from the 2014 show?
You cannot stand still, so we are continually revitalising Lord of the Dance. We have exciting new music specially written for us by Ger Fahey, who is one of Ireland’s best composers in the field of our traditional music. And we have some new dancers in our troupe who are amongst the best in the world and having them is very important to us.
The story weaves in a lot of Irish folklore. What’s the importance of preserving Irish narratives through pop culture?
I have always tried to remain close to our traditional roots and, fortunately, I had a deep grounding in them through my parents. Without that and the respect for our traditions it would be difficult to do what we do. We see ourselves as bringing a modern version of our traditions themselves to a wider audience.
Lord of the Dance is known as much for the dancing as it is for the costume changes. Why do you think they add to the appeal?
It is all part of the same thing. We bring colour and excitement to our shows, which was not necessarily in the focus of our predecessors.
What’s the best part of doing this more than twenty years since you first started?
I wish it was only twenty years! Just getting out in front of audiences is the thing. If that doesn’t do it for you, then you should try something else in life.
Where is your favourite spot to perform and why?
I don’t have any favourite places and perhaps this is because I have been in so many wonderful places. I am excited by new things, I like being on tour and I love meeting people so I am very fortunate.
Being on the road, what do you usually get up to with the crew when you’re not on stage?
We are a team, which is the essence of how this all works. People perhaps do not see how much work has to go into the show to keep it at the level that we want. We really do not get as much time to entertain ourselves as you might expect. But when we do, we do what the Irish are best at.
You once said you would be a dancer for the rest of your life. Do you still feel the same now?
Of course, but there are forces that ask other questions. As long as I can dance and enjoy it, I will be dancing.
Do you think you might produce any completely new ones in the future?
Don’t miss it
Tickets to the all-seated Lord Of The Dance are Dh250 (gold), Dh350 (platinum), Dh450 (VIP) and Dh700 (VVIP) at virginmegastore.ae. Shows are at 9pm on March 27 and 5pm and 9pm on March 28. For more information, visit lordofthedance.ae.