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Follow Your Dream, Day #494: Hell's Kitchen -- the Supercut

How about another #LordOfTheDance supercut -- this time, the big clash of clans at the top of the second act: Hell's Kitchen!

This supercut features *five* commercial video performances: 1996, 1998, 2009, 2011, and 2014.

The show's first act is almost entirely exposition. You meet, in order, *six* main characters and two factions: the Little Spirit, the Lord of the Dance, Erin the Goddess, Saoirse, Don Dorcha and the Warriors, Morrighan, and the Warlords. It is a testament to Michael Flatley's unique gifts as a dramatist -- his ability to take Joseph Campbell's monomyth and translate it into a dance drama -- that all of this is conveyed clearly to the audience without a single word spoken; you inherently "get" it even if you didn't read the show programme.

But if you *have* read the programme, then you know that there is unrest amongst the clans, sitting in their stone circles. A new power -- Don Dorcha -- has arisen to challenge the Lord of the Dance. And as we begin the second act, all of the carefully orchestrated setup of the first act tips over into open conflict.

As the act begins with Spirit in the New World, we see the Little Spirit exploring her construct -- Planet Ireland -- alone. Through her magic flute, she is able to bring her creations to life, and exert some level of control over her creation. As we transition into Dangerous Game, Don Dorcha the Warriors openly taunt and defy the Little Spirit, breaking her magic flute as a prelude to destroying her utterly. It is only the last-second intervention of the Lord of the Dance and his clan -- the Warlords -- that saves the Little Spirit.


Hell's Kitchen, which this supercut focuses on, ends in *stalemate.* Neither clan has the advantage. This is the only number in the show where the two clans directly engage in open warfare, and its ending raises several questions. On one hand, you could argue that this is a strategic victory for the good guys: Don Dorcha and his clan are kept in check and the Little Spirit survives. On the other hand, you could argue this is actually a victory for the bad guys; the Lord of the Dance and his Warlords are supposed to be unbeatable, and yet a rival power has just stood toe-to-toe with them as equals.

Either way, this stalemate ends with a sense of dread: the overwhelming feeling of darkness arising, casting a shadow over Planet Ireland and its inhabitants.

At the very end, as we go into the Spirit's Lament, we see a small but critical plot point: the Little Spirit appeals directly to one of her creations -- the Lord of the Dance -- for help, asking him to mend her magic flute. It's a tiny scene, but there's *a lot* happening sub rosa. For instance, what if the Lord of the Dance refused? With the flute broken, the Little Spirit's hold over her creation is greatly diminished; Planet Ireland is her dream, but that dream has taken on a life of its own. Here we see the Lord voluntarily make the choice to repair the flute, with the massive implications for everyone in Planet Ireland that such an act entails, because it's the *right* thing to do instead of the selfish thing to do. And that seemingly small act of charity becomes critically important in the expanded duel at the climax of the second act, when the Dark Lord actually *defeats* the Lord of the Dance, who is subsequently rescued only via intervention of the Little Spirit with the flute.

Watch the end of Hell's Kitchen carefully. When Don Dorcha withdraws from the field, he still believes the flute is broken. In every single iteration of the show except the very first version, he initially wins the duel later on in the second act -- whether or not he's actually stronger than the Lord of the Dance is arguable, since the Lord is weakened considerably by the Warriors prior to execution, and it's unclear if the Little Spirit actually resurrects the Lord or magically transports him off the execution platform a split second prior to the explosion -- but what is crystal clear is that it is only through the intervention of the Little Spirit that the Lord is able to defeat Don Dorcha at the climax of the story. The seemingly small act of charity -- repairing the Little Spirit's flute -- sets into motion events which ultimately seal the Dark Lord's fate.

Soon, Team Lord will be rehearsing this number in preparation for a #FeetOfFlames #IrishDance stadium tour in Taiwan. Once again, the timeless clash of good and evil will take place onstage.

And after that?

Planet Ireland arises: 2021.


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