The photograph attached to today's journal entry comes from Morrighan emeritus Ciara Sexton, with a note: "Did you know that Daire Nolan has the Unicorn Entertainments logo in a stained glass window at the front of his house? It's amazing. It has a spotlight behind it that lights it up at night."
It's little stories like these that paint out the tapestry of this show's impact. When you buy a ticket to #LordOfTheDance, you're paying money to be spirited away to a magic kingdom, escaping all your troubles for a couple of hours. (We often buy merchandise just because it triggers the memory of that feeling.) But what of the performers and crew themselves? Bringing the magic kingdom of Planet Ireland to life requires intensely hard work from an army of real people who live in the real world.
When you see something on video, that performance is immortalized in your mind's eye. In the case of the original 1996 Lord of the Dance video and the 1998 Hyde Park Feet of Flames video, those feel like bookends of an astonishing journey; and since they sold tens of millions of copies at a time when there was no alternate source of audiovisual entertainment -- the internet was in its infancy, and YouTube was still many years away -- every frame of those videos is etched into the minds of most of the people reading this.
This is important because it touches on a question that's not often discussed: what happens to professional Irish dancers after they retire? Up until this year, with the release of Dance For Hope II, it had been *years* since most fans had seen Daire and the rest of the OG Troupe. And one of the fan sentiments that came up repeatedly in the comments sections where that video was posted was, "I feel like I've grown up with them."
It's interesting to realize, as we approach the show's 25th anniversary next year, that for many, #FeetOfFlames Hyde Park is the #IrishDance equivalent of Woodstock. (Which, if we continue the analogy, means that the original '96 show is the Monterey Pop Festival where Hendrix set his guitar on fire.) Team Lord has gone on to do far larger performances -- the Budapest performance immortalized on the Gold video is in a stadium with literally more than four times the audience of Hyde Park -- but it's the memory of that experience, and how it made people feel when watching it, that burns bright. Everyone now is decades older, and in Dance For Hope II you got to see glimpses of where the lives of the individual performers have taken them -- and it's important to realize the magic is still *there.*
It's there inside each person, performer and audience alike, as you read this right now.
Like Peter Pan gesturing to bring you to Neverland, Michael Flatley's Planet Ireland is always there in the back of your mind, with heroes and villains and warring clans and an epic tale of good versus evil and love versus lust.
Somewhere in Ireland, the house of the OG Dark Lord lights up the night with a glowing Unicorn logo.
Somewhere in the world, a person reading this is wondering if that old magic will ever be seen again -- and what new magic might be built atop it.
You just heard the Little Spirit's haunting "Simple Gifts" flute solo in your head, didn't you.
It's okay: so did we.
Planet Ireland arises: 2021.