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Follow Your Dream, Day #435, Part One: Helen Egan

People of the internet: please join us in wishing Team Lord's OG Little Spirit, the legendary Helen Egan Maguire, a happy birthday today!

By some interesting coincidence, both our OG Little Spirit and our current Little Spirit, Jess Judge, have a birthday today -- so today's Follow Your Dream journal entry is in two parts. Part One is dedicated to Helen.

In the original show, Helen Egan is the only Irish dancer who doesn't #IrishDance. Her character, the Little Spirit, is unique. Planet Ireland, along with everyone and everything inside it, is her creation; as she explores it with that childlike sense of wonder, she is the vessel through which the audience is given permission to *feel* its way through the show, rather than having to *think* their way through it. Lord of the Dance is all about hitting emotions on a very primal level, and thus the job of selling the fantasy and bringing the audience in on the journey falls squarely on the shoulders of the Little Spirit.

This is an *enormous* task. You have to play a character that has mysterious godlike depths and childlike innocence at the same time, in a dance drama with no spoken dialogue. How on Earth do you come up with a believable performance?

Remember the first time -- the very first time -- you saw Lord of the Dance? And the spotlight revealed the mysterious golden figure who plays the haunting flute melody and brings this mysterious and dark Celtic fantasy world to life? Do you remember how you felt? Like Alice going through the looking glass, or Lucy Pevensie stumbling through a wardrobe into Narnia? This is an *incredibly* hard emotional reaction to provoke in a stage drama.

Helen did it.

Further, keep in mind: she's the very first. Nowhere in #IrishDancing do they teach anything that even remotely prepares you for the character of the Little Spirit. Helen had no reference points to draw from, and had to rely solely on Michael Flatley's direction and her own intuition as a performance artist.

The result is electrifying -- because Helen Egan is an electrifying performer. The sheer stage presence she brings to the role is magnetic, and she set the groove which all Little Spirits who have succeeded her draw from.

Please join us in wishing our OG Little Spirit, the legendary Helen Egan, a happy birthday today!

Special thanks must also go to Team Lord alum Leah Gallagher, who provided the never-before-seen backstage birthday footage, and James Stevens, who provided the Feet of Flames footage of Steven Brunning hanging Helen upside down by her feet. If you're a #LordOfTheDance alum with some footage sitting in your archive, let us know! We want to share it!

Planet Ireland arises: 2021.


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