Follow Your Dream, Day #585: Explosions

Why does an #IrishDance show have explosions?

Because #LordOfTheDance is a rock concert fused with #IrishDancing, and this is part of the format when you stage a large-scale spectacle.

Because the plot calls for it.

Because they're freaking cool.

More than all of that, though: it exposes the dance to people who might otherwise not tune in. The harder and more obscure something is to appreciate, the fewer the people who gravitate to it. Michael Flatley's gift as a dramatist, honed by years of touring and experimenting onstage with the Chieftains long before Eurovision ever hit, gave him a very clear picture of how to realize the holy grail of creativity: achieving a remarkable artistic vision that's also commercially successful.

The effete ivory-tower intellectuals in the back may scoff and turn up their noses, but here's an inescapable truth: commercial Irish dancing -- the whole damn genre, and everyone who's ever made a penny off of it in the last quarter of a century -- wouldn't exist without Michael Flatley.

Show us someone else who can take an obscure cultural folk dance and turn it into a billion-dollar IP that's recognized across the globe, spawns countless other shows, creates commercial demand that brings employment to a whole lot of people, and literally reinvigorates a nation's cultural identity to the point of having a measurable impact on said nation's GDP, and we'll doff our hats to that person. Until then, the explosions stay.

There's another reason for the explosions: bold statements inspire bold performers.

This image was taken last month during the #FeetOfFlames Impossible Tour in Taiwan. This is Lord of the Dance Matt Smith in the finishing pose of the show's titular solo, at the flashpoint of Andy Frame's pyro cue. (Frame, for those of you who don't know him, was also the same legend who handled the Hyde Park pyro back in 1998.)

Matt Smith, as a child, saw videos of Michael Flatley dancing and said, "I want to be that."

Someone out there who saw the show or read this post is saying the same thing right now.

This is important. Committing to the years -- decades -- it takes to become *this* level of professional dancer is a hard road. Life in the arts is never easy. And there is still a social stigma around dancing, especially for men.

What a strange curiosity it is: as children, we think nothing of singing and dancing. Yet for some reason we let the world beat it out of us as we grow up.

The explosions, and the roar of crowds thousands strong -- or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands -- is a reminder to stay the course. Because that dancer is inside all of us, and if you choose to be the dancer up on that stage, you embody the hopes and shelved dreams of everyone who's watching.


Planet Ireland arises: 2021.


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