"All right, look at that! Whooo! See now? Follow your dream! Look at this!"
Those are the only spoken words uttered onstage during the Feet of Flames concert in Hyde Park in 1998. They are spoken by Michael Flatley.
What must it have been like to walk through Hyde Park in 1998 and see the massive Feet of Flames set being built?
Television, for all its magic, has one unique challenge: properly capturing a sense of *scale.* This was especially true in the late 90's, when most of us consumed home media via VHS on standard-definition screens. Today, with home theater systems and high-definition cameras, it's a bit of a different story, but we still come back to the realities of trying to compress a massive live event onto a 2D surface.
1998's Feet of Flames, at Hyde Park, is somewhat unique in this regard -- because even back then, you got a really good sense of the sheer scale of this production. And that sense of scale increases when you go behind the scenes and see it as it's being created.
For Michael Flatley, this must have been a moment like no other. Put yourself in his shoes: you have just turned forty years old. You've been dancing for nearly thirty years. Twenty-five of those years were spent in complete obscurity as a (literally) starving artist, viewed by all the world as "Mike" the uneducated construction worker with a quirky dance hobby. You finally got your big break four years earlier to showcase your art form, built an entire show around it, got it taken away from you by the producers of that show, and had the whole world telling you to just take what money you'd made and fade away into the sunset, your ship having sailed without you.
But you don't do what everyone tells you to do. Instead, you stand up and fight. You face your toughest challenge yet -- to build a new show that has to outdo your first show -- and you literally spend every penny to your name to prove a point as an artist: that what the general public pictures when they think of commercial #IrishDancing is *your* art form, crafted through decades of brutally hard work, and you worked too damn hard for others to take it away from you.
Against all the odds (and more than a few people actively working against you), you don't just succeed -- you *crush* the record books.
At age forty, you stand alone atop a mountain you've climbed since you were a child, and you behold a massive stage set for an #IrishDance show -- *your* show -- being built in front of your eyes.
Your dream has become reality.
If you truly understand the preceding paragraphs, then you understand the one message Michael has repeatedly shared: follow your dream. If you're willing to *work* for it, you can have anything you want.
Next year, 2021, is the 25th anniversary year of #LordOfTheDance. Who knows what that might bring?
Planet Ireland arises: 2021.