How about a #ThrowbackThursday treat: let's take a look at some never-before-seen rehearsal footage of the legendary 1996 OG Troupe, with Warriors -- from rehearsal to stage!
The first thing you immediately notice is that the opening third of the number is completely different; instead of a solo for Don Dorcha, it features both Daire Nolan as Don Dorcha and Michael Donnellan as his lieutenant, both performing shorter solos. At this stage in the development of the number, the idea was to set up both the "whistle step" sequence at the beginning of the second act (when Don Dorcha and his lieutenant torment the Little Spirit), as well as another moment much deeper in the second act. However, when that other moment (which for now will remain obscured -- later on, you'll find out what it is) was changed, it then created a ripple effect which reaches all the way back to this number.
The second thing that jumps out is that this is the only footage of this number where you see the bad guys without masks on. Any creature without a discernible face is inherently scary, and over the decades the Warriors have gotten increasingly frightening, going from basic eye coverings to full-blown riot-police helmets. Like Star Wars stormtroopers, the evil soldiers are a faceless and soulless horde, out to conquer anything in their way. There are real human performers behind those masks, though -- and here you see a glimpse of the hard work that went into creating this legendary number.
Third, this is another number where the Little Spirit attempts to playfully interact with her creation; remember, Planet Ireland and everyone in it is the Little Spirit's dream, and at this early stage of the first act she clearly doesn't realize what a threat Don Dorcha and the Warriors pose. It isn't until the beginning of the second act that her innocent curiosity is transmuted into helpless terror as her creations rise up against her, and it is in these brief character moments that we see the larger plot structure at work. Here we see OG Little Spirit Helen Egan Maguire rehearsing this moment at the end of Warriors, and you can already see the magic taking shape.
Finally, it's worth noting: all of #LordOfTheDance came out of Michael Flatley's head. We spend so much time thinking of Michael as a brilliant dancer that it's easy to forget he's also a creative force nonpareil. Commercial Irish dancing, as a genre and art form, is very much his invention -- and that creative force is still hard at work behind the curtain.
Planet Ireland arises: 2021.