It is Halloween, 2020. What better time for a supercut devoted to the Dark Lord of #IrishDance, Don Dorcha? We've done supercuts devoted to various #LordOfTheDance numbers, but this is the first one we've ever done for a specific *character.*
To make this one extra special, we're once again using Lord of the Dance Cathal Keaney's breathtakingly tragic piano arrangement of Warriors, the bad-guy anthem from the show. This music, coupled with looking at a quarter of a century of Don Dorcha, gives a new perspective: like Sisyphus, forever condemned to roll a boulder uphill only to be foiled just before reaching the summit, so too is Don Dorcha a character worthy of a Greek tragedy.
When we first meet Don Dorcha, he is portrayed by the legendary Daire Nolan as the banal face of evil: the embodiment of stifling tradition, trying to keep Michael Flatley's brash flashiness down. Two years and hundreds of defeats later, Daire's interpretation of the Dark Lord in Feet of Flames is wildly different: this is someone just as powerful and just as flashy as the Lord of the Dance, but cruel and arrogant as well.
The next interpretation we see in a commercial video release is Steven Brunning's. His is a Dark Lord who revels in being evil for the sake of it, an almost Joker-like quality to the character. We're then introduced to Tom Cunningham's interpretation, which actually evolves dramatically over the course of three different videos: Tom's dark lord goes from being a young and handsome warrior clan leader to a demonic half-cyborg supernatural force of nature with an army of undead at his command.
Today we have three lead dancers who perform the role of Don Dorcha, all with wildly different interpretations. Declan Durning's Don Dorcha is a hissing punk anarchist. Alasdair Spencer's Don Dorcha is a psychologically-disturbed sadist. And Zoltan Papp's Don Dorcha is Kefka from Final Fantasy VI: utterly and totally bugnuts insane -- with danger in every movement.
But no matter what form Don Dorcha takes -- no matter how much of his humanity he sacrifices -- he is ultimately doomed to fail, even in the one iteration of the show (Feet of Flames World Tour) where he correctly identifies the Little Spirit as the main threat to his power, not the Lord of the Dance, and attempts to execute *her* instead.
Dangerous Games adds considerably to the mythos of Don Dorcha, because he communicates as a disembodied spirit directly with the Little Spirit *before* she creates Planet Ireland. In the classic show, it's arguable that Don Dorcha isn't necessarily aware he's in a dream reality -- whereas in Dangerous Games, he blatantly states he's turning the dream into a nightmare. He *recognizes* the dream reality for what it is, and is somehow able to partially exist outside of it.
If there is one line which sums up the tragedy of Don Dorcha, it is this King Lear quote from the Bard: "I am bound upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears do scald like molten lead."
None of this character analysis is necessary to enjoy the show. But if you've ever wondered *why* the show seems to have such a high level of rewatchability, it's because it's basically Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" monomyth plot structure brilliantly translated by Michael Flatley into a dance drama. Those character archetypes, and that story structure, subconsciously appeal to all of us as human beings, no matter where we are or what language we speak.
Enjoy your Samhain festivities, citizens of Planet Ireland. The Warriors return to their stone circles. Don Dorcha's name is whispered on the wind.
Planet Ireland falls: 2021.