Lord of the Dance is an Irish musical and dance production that was created, choreographed, and produced by Irish-American dancer Michael Flatley, who also took a starring role. The music for the show was written by Ronan Hardiman.
Michael Flatley found his first fame starring in Riverdance, but he left the show in 1995 before its debut in London after a disagreement over creative control. He dreamed of putting together a dance show capable of playing in arenas and stadiums instead of traditional theatres. He soon began thinking of rhythm patterns and steps for an a cappella number. This number would later become "Planet Ireland", the show's finale. The show took six months to bring it from conception to the stage. Auditions were held in the SFX City Theatre in Dublin.
Lord of the Dance had preview shows at the Point Theatre in Dublin from June 28 to July 1, 1996. The show staged a premiere performance on June 27th 1996 - the video was filmed on July 2, 1996. The story follows the character "Lord of the Dance" and his fight against the evil dark lord "Don Dorcha" from taking over Planet Ireland. The "Lord of the Dance" defeats the dark lord's invasion with help from a little spirit. There is also a story with a "love vs lust" theme expressed through dance throughout the show. "Saoirse, the Irish Cailín" fights for the love of the "Lord of the Dance" against the wicked "Morrighan, the Temptress". The stories are based on ancient Irish folklore and some Biblical references; the title itself, along with the central musical theme, is taken from a contemporary hymn.
In March 1997, Lord of the Dance was performed at the Oscars. That November, Lord of the Dance expanded operations by forming several troupes of dancers which would tour North America and Europe. Flatley signed a contract with Disney for Lord of the Dance to perform at Epcot in Walt Disney World in the summer of 1999 and Lord of the Dance was asked back the following summer in 2000. Troupe 4 performed at the Disneyland Paris Resort in 2002 and 2003. There are currently two troupes of Lord of the Dance productions touring the world. Troupe 1; currently touring throughout Europe, whilst Troupe 2 is resident in the US.
On July 25, 1998 after two years of touring, Flatley created Feet of Flames, an expanded version of Lord of the Dance. Feet of Flames took the dancers from all the troupes and put them together, totalling almost 100. The final stage was 180 feet (55 m) wide with multiple levels. The show was held before 25,000 people in London's Hyde Park. The special feature was a dance solo by Flatley without music. It was supposed to be the last time Flatley danced live on stage, but a different version of the show would later go on tour in 2000–01 (only one troupe appeared on this tour). The show in Hyde Park was the last time Michael Flatley danced in "Lord of the Dance", he would go on to do the Feet of Flames World Tour, and after that Celtic Tiger. The Lord of the Dance 10th Anniversary Party was held in June 2006.
Lord of the Dance still has two troupes on tour. Troupe 1 tours Europe and Asia, while troupe 2 tours North and South America. Michael Flatley, meanwhile, is still the creator, producer and director of the production.
Lord of the Dance recently[clarification needed] played in Las Vegas at the Steve Wyrick Theatre. Dancers from Troupe One and Two merged together during this period.
In December 2009, a troupe played in Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C.[clarification needed]
In April 2010 Michael Flatley announced that he would be returning to headline the Lord of the Dance show, in five performances in Ireland, three at The O2 in Dublin and two at The Odyssey Arena in Belfast in November 2010, the first time he will have done so since 1998.
Over the years, along with several troupes, the lead dancers have changed.
Original characters (1996 show)
Lord of The Dance: Michael Flatley
Saoirse, the Irish Cailín: Bernadette Flynn
Morrighan the Temptress: Gillian Norris
Don Dorcha: Daire Nolan
The Little Spirit: Helen Egan
Fiddlers: Máiréad Nesbitt and Cora Smyth
Erin the Goddess: Anne Buckley
Bernadette Flynn is still touring with the show. Gillian Norris left the show in early 2000. Daire Nolan left the show shortly after its first run in Epcot in 1999. Nesbitt is now with the Celtic band Celtic Woman. Smyth is touring with Flatley in Celtic Tiger. Buckley has left the show and has made her own solo album.
In mid-March 2011, there was a limited theatrical screening of Lord of the Dance 3D. A DVD of the show will be released on September 12, 2011.