Today our musical entertainment is as much visual as auditory – and, in one case, very funny.
The musical “Riverdance” was initially the brainchild of Moya Doherty, Executive Producer of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest final in Dublin, Ireland. She commissioned the titular piece to be performed during the interval of that show. It ran for just seven minutes, but electrified the audience, who gave it a standing ovation. That was enough inspiration to develop it into a full stage show, which launched just nine months later. Since then, it’s been performed all over the world, and is as popular today as ever.
Here’s that original, seven-minute performance of what was to become the centerpiece of the full musical performance. The principal dancers (who also co-choreographed the performance) were Jean Butler and Michael Flatley.
Riverdance went on to become an international musical phenomenon, being performed in many countries. It’s still staged to this day, and has produced fan performances such as the world record for the longest line dance. Sadly, Flatley left Riverdance soon after the show became a smash hit. It appears he felt that his contribution to its creation had not been adequately acknowledged. He also allegedly wanted to be the – as in THE!!! – star of the show, whereas Butler and others regarded its success as a team effort. Butler spoke about the rift some years later.
Flatley’s public reputation was tarnished by the split and a subsequent lawsuit. Undaunted, he went on to develop a new show titled “Lord of the Dance“, in which he was unmistakeably the sole star of the performance. It later evolved into “Feet of Flames” and “Celtic Tiger“. Here’s the eponymous number from “Lord of the Dance”, to show how his dancing style – and insistence upon being the central focus of the show – had developed.
Flatley certainly dominated the Celtic dancing performance scene for many years, despite his abrasive personality.
Some years later, Simon Cowell developed the concept for a TV talent show series titled “Britain’s Got Talent“. It later expanded throughout the world, with dozens of countries having their own versions of the show. The 2009 third series produced this extremely funny parody of Michael Flatley and Celtic dancing from a Greek father-and-son duo calling themselves “Stavros Flatley“.
Stavros Flatley went on to win fourth place in the 2009 competition, and reappeared in a couple of later series. Look them up on YouTube for more videos of those performances.
I enjoyed (and still enjoy) the music from “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance”; and I still laugh aloud at the performances of Stavros Flatley. Long live parody!