A very funny review of Michael Flatley’s latest dance extravaganza – where he attempts to tell the entire history of Ireland in 2 hours through dance.
I loved Riverdance – I know a lot of Irish people think it’s awful, and it probably is, but whatever. I make no apologies. I thought it was great – although when watching the original version from Ireland I do have to turn a blind eye to Flatley’s unbelievable cheesiness, his puffy shirts, his atrocious ego, and his enormous self-pleasure which drips off of his every dance gesture. He’s a good dancer, but whatever, dude. Please take a chill. I have seen a couple different versions of Riverdance – and I saw the guy who took over for Flatley when Flatley left the show (due to “creative differences” – again: WHATEVER, dude!!!) – but anyway, whoever that guy was – Ian something – was just wonderful. He is what a dancer should be. Humble – and yet able to do the most amazing things with his body. But HUMBLE, ya hear me?? The show does not depend on Michael Flatley, no matter what he might thinks. The show is bigger than Michael Flatley.
Regardless – now apparently he has a new show out – and … the humor of that review is very subtle, but delicious nonetheless. I actually don’t mind Michael Flatley, although I recognize that he is a complete bonehead. Whatever. He’s a big cheeze doodle. No skin off my nose.
Favorite quotes from this review:
First onstage following the intermission was a single dancer wearing a flight attendant’s uniform. The crowd seemed mildly confused. Was Flatley saluting Irish aviation? Using the airplane as a metaphor for being stranded between two worlds? As we pondered such thoughts, the flight attendant began to peel off her clothes. Flatley was paying tribute to a more recent achievement, thoroughly American: the striptease. The flight attendant shed her clothes to reveal a bikini colored like the American flagthe shedding of her Irish identity?and then began a regimen of sensual calisthenics. My notes trail off, but I have a memory of the flight attendant ending her presentation downstage, legs splayed and squatting like an offensive lineman.
So Flatley!! So cheesy!!
He debuted in the Riverdance show at the ripe age of 36. Flatley was Riverdance’s star andaccording to himits choreographer and chief inspiration, but a row over money and credit led him to quit the show before it began a second run in London. (Flatley’s agent, in a memorable diatribe, had requested that his star “be treated and respected as if Michael was Dame Judi Dench.”) Within months, Flatley had regrouped and raised his own show, which he humbly titled Lord of the Dance.
hahahaha “which he humbly titled …” I was taking dance classes at Alvin Ailey at the time of Lord of the Dance, and I remember my teacher, Maxine (unbelievable woman) saying stuff like, “Oh fuck HIM. Lord of the dance? What an ego. Asshole.” This tall lengthy gorgeous ballerina woman, fuming, with profanity, about Michael Flatley having the nerve to anoint himself “Lord of the Dance”.
And yet Flatley is not an American exceptionalist, nor even an Irish one. His is more of a free-range patriotisma “hooray for everybody!” approach common to Montessori kindergartens. In Celtic Tiger, Viking hordes commingle with Irish peasants. The Brits have their vile moments but are allowed a lusty chorus of “Rule Britannia.” Flatley honors Irish independence then declares his unwavering love for America. Oddly, for a show called Celtic Tiger, the finale has Flatley clad in red, white, and blue and performing “I’m a Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
“hooray for everybody” – YOu know, that is so true – and actually has become more and more true about “Riverdance” as the years have gone by. The original was mostly Irish dancing, with one Spanish folk dancer and then the folk dancers from Russia. By the time it got to Broadway, the main song – about the “river” – has an African beat, and we’ve got African dancers, African songs sung by solo African singers, we’ve got dancers from Eastern Europe, we’ve got the American tap dancers, and native American dancers, and French dancers, and folk dancers from around the multi-colored world … and we’re celebrating EVERYBODY! WHOO-HOO!! Why just celebrate Ireland when you can celebrate EVERYONE?? I don’t know. I always just liked the Irish stuff, and thought the multicultural theme of the show was pushing it – although I saw what they were going for (similarities in dance styles across cultures. But whatever. Yawn. Let’s see some Irish step-dancing please and don’t WORRY about validating every other culture. If you validate Irish dancing, does that mean you INvalidate dances from other cultures? It’s that kind of universal exclusiveness that gets kind of tiresome.) Riverdance did not start out that way. The star of the show was the traditional dancing of Ireland – modernized and sexed up a bit. Sorry, other cultures. Do your own show. This one’s about Ireland.
But still. Despite that small annoyance, nothing can taint my affection for that show, and my memory of seeing it for the first time. Not even Michael Flatley’s puffy cheeze-doodle shirts, on-again off-again Irish accent, painted-on leather pants, and shoes with Lous XIV high heels. Nope. Not even HE can ruin Riverdance for me.
Bryan Curtis, the very funny writer of the piece in Slate, sums it all up with:
There are those of us who would have been happy if he’d shown up in jeans and a tank top and danced for a half hour.
This made me laugh out loud:
With his pants casually unbuttoned, Flatley gives off a kind of tortured, middle-aged sexuality, like Bono only with a more uncertain accent. I doubted Flatley’s allure until I saw a large, graying woman, seated to my left, clomping her foot like a deranged horse until the Lord of the Dance returned for an encore.
That “tortured middle-aged sexuality” thing is so spot ON!!
Anyway, whatever. I don’t begrudge Cheeze-ball his success, even though I think he’s kind of silly and a complete and utter egomaniac. More power to him.