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Follow Your Dream, Day #266: You Don't Mess With the Zoltan

Lord of the Dance is a show that *celebrates* the performer. This isn't a generic show where no one remembers you; this is a show that *spotlights* you, and cheers you on to show off what you've got.

Thus we come to the subject of today's production journal entry. Raise your hand if you've seen Zoltan Papp, our senior dance captain, perform the role of the Dark Lord.

In the 24-year history of Lord of the Dance, there have been four male leads featured in the commercial video releases: Michael Flatley and James Keegan as the Lord of the Dance, and Daire Nolan and Tom Cunningham as the Dark Lord.

This means that Zoltan Papp -- currently our oldest troupe member, having served since the days of Celtic Tiger in 2005, has the interesting distinction of being one of the most electrifying Irish dance performers the casual fan has never seen.

We've written extensively about Zoltan in this production journal, and with good reason: his story is utterly amazing. Told by a dance instructor that he was "too lazy" when he was a teenager, and only coming to Irish dance in his early twenties, he is one of the finest representatives of the ethos of second-generation professional Irish dancing under the Michael Flatley banner: work harder than everyone else, work longer than everyone else, push through all the barriers, and do things on that stage that no one else can do.

Zoltan dances like a man with a chip on his shoulder. Every single movement onstage is carefully planned and rehearsed; if you caught the live Dancelord TV stream from the Lordbus the other day, you saw him talking about how he doesn't just turn left on the stage when the choreography says to turn left; he *executes* that turn, and every other movement, every second he's on that stage.

It's the difference between 211 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees. At 211 degrees, water is very hot. At 212, water boils into steam. And steam powers locomotives. One extra degree makes all the difference.

Zoltan is 212.

Michael himself has often said that you can't stand still; if you stagnate, you die. Lord of the Dance as a show has continuously evolved, and its performers have as well. Each troupe member in Lord of the Dance is a top-shelf Irish dancer, capable of levels of precision and power that are simply unmatched. This is the subtle distinction between Team Lord and every other dance show out there. Sure, there may be a lot of fun backstage antics -- this is a show that firmly believes in working hard and playing hard -- but when it's go time, Lord of the Dance fires off its coat, goes out onstage, and blows the roof off the building.

Keep in mind, by the way: what you're seeing in this video is the *toned down* version of Zoltan. He used to leap off the stage and run around the audience. (We're not kidding.) Even so, it's taken three separate cameras just to *try* to capture the utter insanity of what happens when he's onstage.

Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy Dark Lord Zoltan.


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