When you think of Lord of the Dance, what are the moments that come to mind?
Chances are good you're thinking of the big moments. Cry of the Celts. Victory. Planet Ireland. This is a very loud show, after all.
But what of the small moments?
One of my personal favorites is the Wind-Up Doll sequence at the beginning of Celtic Dream. It's this beautiful, self-contained moment: the Little Spirit bringing one of her creations to life. I'll never forget, in the original 1996 video, the wind-up doll slowly struggling to move, all alone onstage, and then disappearing as the spotlight switches off.
It's a hauntingly moving sequence. That image of the wind-up doll has stayed with me for decades. How did Michael Flatley come up with this sequence? Why is it there? It's a beautiful character moment, by itself, that not only reinforces the plot of the show -- that Planet Ireland is the Little Spirit's dream -- but the imagery stays with you after the show is done.
The same is true of the flute repair scene after Hell's Kitchen. Think about the symbology here: the Little Spirit, having watched her dream become a nightmare, has to directly appeal to one her creations to fix her magic flute.
This is a plot point I've theorized about for ages. What if the Lord of the Dance refused to repair the flute? If you watch the original 1996 video, the Lord is initially reluctant to do so, as if it means giving up power and control back his creator. (It's a good thing he does, though, since the Little Spirit resurrects him and uses the flute later to intervene on his behalf.)
What message was Michael conveying here? If Planet Ireland is the Little Spirit's dream, and the Lord is the hero of that dream, is it a way of saying to that little child in all of us to not give up on our dreams?
For all the talk of Lord of the Dance having a very simple story -- good versus evil, love versus lust -- there's actually a heck of a lot of archetypal symbology happening, sub rosa, throughout the show. As the lads at Red Letter Media like to say, "You might not have noticed -- but your *brain* did."
These sorts of moments are sprinkled throughout the Lord of the Dance. The current iteration of the show, Dangerous Games, has several new interstitials involving the Little Spirit. Keep an eye out for them when you're watching; this is a dance *drama,* after all, and these quiet details add tremendously to the presentation. To me, the Little Spirit is that little boy or girl in all of us who refuses to give up their dream, and indeed perhaps the whole message of the show is to follow one's dream.
Life is both simultaneously too short and too long to do anything less.