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Follow Your Dream, Day #295: Thunder and Lightning

Raise your hand if you saw this number performed live.

Fun fact: there are only two ways to have seen this -- either live in person during the Feet of Flames World Tour, or via the "Gold" video.

The Feet of Flames World Tour is an interesting chapter in the 24-year history of Lord of the Dance. It was Michael Flatley's first return to the stage after a year off, and along with Dangerous Games, it is the greatest deviation from the original iteration of the show, with a very different soundtrack, different rhythm patterns, a modified plot (the Little Spirit / Court Jester is now in danger of execution), and entirely new numbers like this one. Even one of the show's signature numbers, Cry of the Celts, is completely replaced with a new number: Firedance.

Thunder and Lightning is an interesting number because it's an all-girls hardshoe number, and it represents a more direct conflict between Saoirse and Morrighan. In every other version of Lord of the Dance, the two female leads only briefly come into conflict in the first act; here, that conflict is dramatically scaled up.

Michael Flatley has frequently said that you have to keep evolving and changing; if you stagnate, you die. It would have been the easiest thing in the world to calcify the show right up front in 1996 and never risk changing a thing, passing off the same exact show decades later with only the occasional (and incidental) cosmetic change. That's the easy way out. That's the safe choice.

Instead, if you look at Michael's oeuvre as a creative artist, you see a portrait of a genius who's constantly painting new pictures -- either varying explorations of themes, or entirely new concepts. Celtic Tiger is a perfect illustration of this. Dangerous Games is another example. And so is Feet of Flames 2000.

This creates a certain urgency to Michael's work: each time there's a new show, it contains new gems that may only exist within that iteration, perhaps never to be seen live onstage again.

Thus, let's enjoy a look back at a fan favorite from the turn of the millennium: Thunder and Lightning.


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