When you walk into the arena, and you behold the Lord of the Dance stage in front of you for the first time, what's your reaction?
A sharp intake of breath? A low whistle? A slow smile spreading across your face?
It's the same for us. Hours before the dancers arrive, the crew is already hard at work, meticulously assembling the set piece by piece. Lord of the Dance is an incredibly complex operation; when you think of every element -- lighting, screens, pyro, stage, sound, etc. -- that all have to be carefully calibrated to work together, this is no small feat. Further, each venue is different; as you've seen on the Dancelord TV backstage streams, one night you might be shoehorned into a historic theater that's hundreds of years old, and the next night you're in an outdoor arena with five times the seats.
Thus, for the dancers, when they arrive at the venue, it's like discovering a whole new Planet Ireland each night. And there's still that moment -- even after countless tours and performances -- when you see that stage, stand upon its breadth, and take in the moment.
When you find your seat in the venue, you're eagerly waiting for the show to start. Wondering what's happening backstage. Meanwhile, we're actually broadcasting backstage; some fans who come to see the show live now watch the backstage streams on their phones while they're sitting out front, chatting electronically in real time with the heroes they're about to see perform. Last night, for instance, fans were asking questions of Lord of the Dance Matt Smith and Dark Lord Declan Durning mere minutes before they went onstage. You get to go behind the curtain in a way that's never before been done.
Because here's the real magic of Planet Ireland, and indeed Lord of the Dance as a whole: it's the exchange of energy between the audience and the troupe.
This is important. Some types of dance shows (and genres) are very reserved; a certain level of distance between the audience and performer is expected, and you're there to see a technical exhibition. Lord of the Dance, meanwhile, is a full-throttle rock concert fused with a title fight. Everything about it builds up to the point where you're on your feet, and the dancers are on their feet, and everyone's looking at each other and screaming, "YES!"
*That's* Planet Ireland.
And that's why Lord of the Dance both endears and endures.