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Follow Your Dream, Day #237: The Magic Is Real

February 9, 2020, will always be a special date for this show.

Lord of the Dance has a long history of battling through adversity. In 1996, shortly after Lord of the Dance made its debut at The Point in Dublin, Michael Flatley tore his calf muscle. Badly. And massive performances at the London Coliseum were coming up.

This was a moment that could easily have broken the show. But through sheer force of will, Michael overcame the odds -- and the show went on.

That ethos has been with Lord of the Dance since the very beginning. Only ten weeks to build the show? Okay. Torn muscles and broken bones? Okay. Competing shows insisting on barring clauses in some cities to try to slow us down? Okay.

You can't stop Lord of the Dance. Simple as that. Michael states this point-blank in the opening narrative to Dangerous Games: when you come up against brick walls, you go over them, under them, around them, or through them -- but find a way to the other side.

Let's be candid for a moment: this particular tour has had some unique challenges. We arrived in China and shortly thereafter the Coronavirus wiped out the entire Beijing leg of the tour from under us, a story which made it into the newspapers. We then redid the tour itinerary to arrive in Taiwan earlier than expected. Due to a variety of border closures, we then had to pull off the most incredible logistical magic trick in the history of touring shows to get to Mexico on time with all our gear. And that's just the Reader's Digest version of what's happened.

But we're still here. We made it.

There's no point in pretending these challenges didn't happen. To the contrary: you measure the strength of a team by the obstacles it overcomes. This is a tough cast and crew, and you should be proud of them.

There was no way on Earth we were going to miss Mexico. Lord of the Dance has a huge fanbase in Mexico, and with multiple performances scheduled at the massive National Auditorium, failure was simply not an option.

February 9th, in particular, was going to be a massive show. The previous shows on February 8th were explosive, and we just knew, going into the venue, that February 9th was going to be a special evening. There was just something in the air that night. Every performance of Lord of the Dance is top notch, but there are rare moments when it seems like something greater than the sum of the parts takes hold, and everything just comes together. You *feel* it when it happens; it's like everyone is subconsciously on the same wavelength and moving in a unison that transcends the physical world.

As the chronicler of Lord of the Dance, the challenge I personally faced was how to capture the magic of that night on film for you to enjoy.

One thing you've seen over the last 237 days is an explosion in audiovisual content for Lord of the Dance. This is deliberate. Up until last year, if you wanted to enjoy AV content of a professional Irish dance show, you basically had two options: watch (and rewatch) a commercial video release, or sift through bootleg videos online. What Lord of the Dance has done is introduce a third option, with livestreaming and onstage first-person video from the dancers themselves as they perform.

It's a completely new way of consuming professional Irish dancing. And when it's done right, the effect is jaw-dropping. It should make you want to buy a ticket to the live show. By giving the current show a wildly different visual identity, your brain has no nostalgia-driven reference point for comparison, which -- perhaps counterintuitively -- allows you to gain a deeper appreciation for the current work on its own merits.

To pull this off last night, I asked senior dance captain Zoltan Papp to wear the camera onstage for Victory. Zoltan has a preternatural gift as a dancer; you get the overwhelming sense, when you listen to him and watch him perform, that he was put on this Earth to do exactly what he's doing. He also seems to somehow instinctively know precisely where to point the camera onstage. This is hard enough to do under normal circumstances, but remember that in Mexico City we're performing at altitude; the level of physical conditioning required to be focused enough to be a dancer *and* a filmmaker simultaneously is superhuman.

Zoltan absolutely nailed it. Nailed it so hard they heard it back in Ireland.

The next step was to introduce a second camera. So I filmed Victory from upstage, getting the action from another angle. I remember watching through the viewfinder that night as it happened; the overwhelming thought that kept running through my head, at that moment, was that the magic is real. The magic is REAL.

Watch for the moment after Victory ends and the lights come up, revealing this massive sea of people. It should make you gasp.

It was hair-raising to film from my perspective; I can only imagine how it must have felt for Zoltan. You know you're capturing a special moment, and it feels like the moment itself has taken hold, guiding your movements. I know this is a bit geeky of me, but the best way I can describe it is by saying it felt like the Force was with us.

The next step -- equally critical -- is editing.

There's an old saying that films are made in the editing room. I agree with this. The best editing, in my view, should feel absolutely seamless, as if the film edits itself.

Most of the time the editing I do for these social media videos is fairly simple since I'm working with one camera from a livestream. But on this tour, since we haven't been livestreaming (that comes back in Austria), we've recently upped the ante with multiple cameras and a lot of crosscutting, which is why some of the recent videos have looked and felt different.

The video attached to this journal entry? Honestly, I'm proud of this one. Matt Smith was utterly on fire as the Lord of the Dance. The whole troupe was in the zone. The audience was brilliant. And if I've done my job right, this video captures the electricity of that night. It's slightly raw, just as the show itself is. Go back and watch the original 1996 video; it feels like an unpolished, raw, one-of-a-kind underground rock concert disguised as a dance drama. Lord of the Dance isn't an evening of polite theatre; it's loud, proud, and in your face with high-octane emotion. Thus the video editing should capture that raw emotion. That *authenticity.*

It was, quite frankly, a night you live for as an entertainer.

And I hope you enjoy this video presentation of a small piece of it.

Come see the show live. The magic is real.

#FollowYourDream

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