Good evening from Taiwan! Today, the world's first professional #IrishDance tour to ever start with a two-week quarantine got underway: in a hotel.
It's hard to describe the emotional reaction at seeing all your friends after nine months of pandemic isolation. These are people whom you normally spend every waking moment with on tour. Friendships are forged that last a lifetime. The rigors of touring life are difficult to explain if you haven't ever experienced it, and thus a very tight bond is formed amongst those who do. For a few minutes during check-in at the hotel, we all got to see each other again. It felt just like old times. But, inevitably, we had to report to our separate rooms, and shut the door behind us.
When that door clicks shut, that's it: you're alone. Your world is the room. You cannot leave. Your only contact with the outside world is electronic, save for the glimpse you can get from your balcony. You *know* your friends are all around you, beneath you, and above you; you occasionally hear a bit of music played through the wall of the adjacent room, or hear a door open momentarily as a teammate collects a food delivery, either from the hotel or the outside world. But that's it.
Isolation is somehow harder when your friends are literally right *there,* and you still can't physically be in the same space with them. It is a tremendous test of mental and emotional discipline.
Fortunately, professional Irish dancers have no shortage of either. When you grow up with #IrishDancing, you're used to being judged, pushed beyond your limits, and developing a work ethic second to none. This is doubly true for #LordOfTheDance: this is Michael Flatley's billion-dollar dance show, the flagship of commercial #IrishDancing, and Team Lord slots aren't handed out like party favors. The people in quarantine right now are the finest Irish dancers in the world. Discipline and work ethic are as natural as breathing to these people. They have *earned* their place in this stadium tour.
As we've now arrived in Taiwan, here is the final Team Lord draft of 2020. These are the only professional Irish dancers in the world who are touring right now:
James Keegan (Creative Manager, Lead Lord)
Matt Smith (Dance Captain, Lead Lord)
Zoltan Papp (Senior Dance Captain, Head of Team Fitness, Lead Bad)
Cathal Keaney (Assistant Dance Captain, Lead Lord)
Liam Costello (Assistant Dance Captain)
Connor Smyth (Assistant Dance Captain)
Declan Durning (Lead Bad)
Alasdair Spencer (Lead Bad)
Sean Michael McHugh
Ryan Thomas Lalley
Albert Yao (Taiwan resident)
Andrea Papp-Kren (Dance Captain, Lead Bad)
Erin-Kate Mcilravey (Assistant Dance Captain, Lead Good)
Niamh Shevlin (Lead Good)
Frances Dunne (Assistant Dance Captain, Lead Bad)
Olivia Graydon (Assistant Dance Captain)
Maxine Spelman (Assistant Dance Captain)
Ellie Mae Wheeler
Amber Rose Murphy
Kaitlyn O'Halloran Murphy
Jessica Aquila Judge (Lead -- Little Spirit)
Giada Cunningham (violinist)
Aisling Sage (violinist)
Sarah Louise Dooley (vocalist & dancer)
In the days to come during this quarantine, we hope to bring you more online entertainment: a mix of edited videos and livestream activities, if the technology holds. You, our fans, are on this journey with us; when we hear from you in the comments, it helps us pass this time in quarantine that little bit faster. Our boots are on the ground now; we train and ready ourselves, so that when we emerge from isolation, Planet Ireland may live once again.
Feet of Flames Taiwan: December 2020.