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Follow Your Dream, Day #262: Said the Joker to the Thief

Remember the first time you saw the execution scene in Lord of the Dance?

This scene is filled with archetypal imagery that works on your subconscious. Remember, Lord of the Dance follows the Joseph Campbell "Hero's Journey" Monomyth plot structure: the hero must either die or go into an underworld and be reborn, returning with new wisdom or power.

This plot structure is ancient. As Campbell explains in Hero With A Thousand Faces, it's a story arc that, for whatever reason, all of us as human beings are subconsciously programmed with. We instinctively recognize those beats in a narrative, even if we don't consciously understand why.

Of course, Lord of the Dance can be seen as a parallel to what Michael Flatley himself was going through at that time in his life; having been unceremoniously removed from the first show he created, with his art form in the hands of others, he had to fight his way back up off the canvas and re-emerge with something so stupendous that it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt who the king of the ring was -- and is.

The execution scene has had some variation over the decades. In the original iteration of the show, the Lord is executed and resurrected by the Little Spirit. In Feet of Flames Hyde Park, the same sequence takes place, only then the Lord is defeated in the Duel and saved once more by the Little Spirit. In the Feet of Flames World Tour, it's the Little Spirit -- then the Court Jester -- who's nearly executed, only to be rescued by the Lord. And in Dangerous Games, the Lord is seemingly executed, only to return in disguise as the Little Spirit and her robots drive away Don Dorcha's henchmen.

Variations on mythmaking are endless. The Greek Iliad is vastly different from the Finnish Kalevala, yet both have the same major story beats. Whether consciously or subconsciously, Michael Flatley managed an unbelievable achievement: translating the Monomyth into an Irish dance show.

Thus, we wanted to show you the Execution from a perspective never before seen. We put the camera on Sean Michael McHugh when he went out onstage. Mick is our resident prankster; if there's a whole bunch of people laughing backstage or on the bus, chances are he's at the epicenter of it. If you've watched his PlayerCam segments on Dancelord TV (, you know what we're talking about.

Thus, there's something surprisingly powerful about seeing such a dramatic scene from the perspective of the team joker when it's time to get down to business. He captured onstage what may be the most cinematically dramatic execution shot in the history of the show, as Dark Lord Declan Durning executes Lord of the Dance James Keegan.

All of this was shot in one take. And by seeing it onstage from the perspective of the villain's henchmen, you get a whole new look at a scene you've witnessed for nearly a quarter of a century.

The hero always rises from the underworld -- but first he has to *go* to the underworld. Hang on to the edge of your seats; this is quite a cinematic moment.


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