Growing up, the pages of The Guinness Book of World Records held endless wonders for me. From the strongest man alive to the largest rubber band ball, the heights reached by the individuals photographed in black and white were a source of inspiration. In 1999, choreographer and dancer Michael Flatley joined the ranks of the Guinness heroes as the fastest tap dancer alive and the highest paid dancer of all time.
Beginning next week, Flatley will visit Israel with his production Oh Lord!, a new incarnation of the international sensation Lord of the Dance. The show, which features more than 40 trained Irish dancers, enormous LED screens and dazzling sets, is the biggest and brightest in a line of shows Flatley has become famous for.
Born in Chicago, Flatley began studying Irish dance at a young age. In 1975 he was the first non-European to be awarded first place at the World Championship of Irish Dance competition. Returning to Chicago, Flatley opened a school for Irish dance, officially beginning a craze that has carried on for more than two decades.
His work on Riverdance, a large-scale spectacle boasting traditional Irish music and dance steps, brought him into the limelight as a choreographer and director. The show, which was featured on television programs around the world, created a new awareness of Irish dance. In its wake, thousands of artists took up the art form, while schools blossomed for interested students from California to Tel Aviv.
Lord of the Dance followed Riverdance, raising the standards once again for the heights which Irish dance productions can reach. The performance toured extensively, leaving the stage in 1998. Then, two years ago, Flatley announced that he would revamp the show for a new round of performances. The result, which will be presented shortly in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is Oh Lord! The performance is based on a classic Irish tale in which good outshines evil. At its heart, two young dancers meet and fall in love. If the narrative isn’t enough of a draw, the costumes, the speed and precision of the dancers and the explosive energy on stage might be enough to bring new members to Flatley’s ever-expanding fan club.
In all, 15 performances will be presented in Israel. Oh Lord! is one of the only dance productions ever to take the stage of the massive Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, a space reserved for artists such as Rod Stewart, Eyal Golan and Paul Anka.
Oh Lord! will be performed at the Haifa Congress Center from January 15-18; the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv from January 19-22, 25 and 26; and at the Jerusalem International Convention Center on January 23 and 24. For tickets, go to www.bimot.co.il.