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Follow Your Dream, Day #415: Matt Smith, Lord of the Dance

People of the internet: please join us in wishing #LordOfTheDance Matt Smith a happy birthday today!

We need to talk about this man. Simply put: if Matt Smith's not on your list of the greatest Irish dancers of all time, then change your list.

As someone becomes more brilliant, the number of "yes buts" increases. Michael Flatley is the greatest of all time, and even to this day a few people try to yes-but his legacy: "Yes, but he was only world champion once." "Yes, but to people in the know, so-and-so was a *true* Irish dancer." On and on.

You can apply the yes-but game to anyone. And we have no patience for it. As far as we're concerned, there's only one criteria that matters: would you pay money -- real money, *your* money -- to be entertained by this person?

This is the big leagues. All the feiseanna trophies, the years of sacrifice? That was just to qualify for the *audition.* Now you train harder than you've ever trained, because there's a world of difference between practicing for two minutes of stage time and two *hours* of stage time, all while dealing with the rigors of touring life. You sleep on a bus. You eat at odd hours. You wake up in countries you've never been to before. And now you're at Wembley, and it's showtime. The audience doesn't care if you have sore legs; they don't care if you're having an off day. They paid money to see the best show of their lives -- *tonight.*

The men and women of Team Lord are the ones who answer that bell.

And when you're the Lord of the Dance? That's the ultimate challenge. When you wear that title belt, you are the titular character of a billion-dollar dance show. You are handpicked by Michael Flatley. You are the LORD of the dance: you fire off your coat and deliver the most electrifying dance show the world has ever seen. Period.

Want to know why Matt Smith is one of the greatest Irish dancers in the world? Pick a venue. A theatre, an arena, a stadium, it doesn't matter; we've played to all three. Fill it to capacity. Put him in as lead. Run the show. We'll bet you any sum of money you want that by the end of the show, he'll have that audience on its feet.

To be the Lord of the Dance is more than just technical precision. And it's more than just flashy movements. You have to have that elusive combination of skill, power, and *dash* -- that rare quality that rivets a crowd's eyes to you alone, so that the audience is so in tune with your rhythm that they are emotionally and physically uplifted when you succeed.

To be *that* level of performer -- not the imitation of it, but truly embodying it -- has nothing to do with ego and everything to do with work ethic and confidence. You either understand this level of commitment or you don't.

Or, as one person best put it in the comments section on another Matt Smith video a while back: "That boy is worth committing a sin for."

Matt also has other skills; he's a published sports journalist, and he's just started his own clothing brand, PASM. He also livestreams free #IrishDance lessons here on Dancelord TV every Friday night. And for someone with an astonishing level of natural swagger onstage, his offstage persona is incredibly down to Earth; like a lot of twentysomethings, conversations often orbit around football, beer, and video games. We don't hide this behind some ivory tower façade; this show revels in the emotional connection between artist and audience. But when the bell rings? Make no mistake: this is one of the finest Irish dancers in the history of the sport. End of discussion.

Somewhere in the world, there is a young man or woman reading this right now. Months of lockdown made it that much harder to stay motivated to train. Let Matt's story be a message to all such young men and women: if you want to be an Irish dance superstar, all you have to do is put in the work.

And when you're ready, Team Lord will be here.

Please join us in wishing Lord of the Dance Matt Smith, the Feis Prince of Bedford, a happy birthday today!

Planet Ireland arises: 2021.


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