The bad and the ugly

The bad:
Michael Flatley’s new show, Celtic Tiger, was horrible. The last time I saw him, in Lord Of The Dance, I was blown away, and Jill liked it when we saw the Flatley-less production when it toured. But as Jill said, “I’ve seen better performances in a high school play”.

This review is perfect (I can’t pick a good part, the whole review is excellent):

Irish step dancing can’t be easy in ankle-strap stiletto heels. Still, the girl in the Aer Lingus stewardess outfit gave it a dainty, tentative try to open the second half of Michael Flatley’s new “Celtic Tiger” Thursday at the Bradley Center.

Her discomfort in this impossible task was a little weird, but nothing compared to what came next. Flatley led in a troupe of men in pilot uniforms and aviator shades. They swarmed and hooted around the “stewardess.” It was Bob Fosse meets Tailhook convention.

Then the intimidated stew bucks up and decides to give the boys what they want. Off go the glasses and the cap, down comes a cascade of tresses, and she’s into a full bump-and-grind strip, right down to her red, white and blue bikini bra and panties. At this, the hooting, hollering boys scamper off the stage. When she’s down to her underwear, two of them dash back, wrap the beauty in an American flag and hustle her off the stage.

I swear I’m not making this up.

Now, this takes place in the context of a show purportedly about the courage and persistence of the Irish people through history. The first half makes a swipe at telling a story, with stiff redcoats fighting it out with brave lads in vests and patched trousers. The redcoats have the most engaging and intricate stretch of pure Irish dancing in the show, immediately after singing a rousing chorus of “Rule Britannia.” I wonder whether Flatley is even aware of this bitter irony.

The second half is a hopeless mishmash of Fosse-isms, disco, flamenco, ballet and cheerleading mingled with bits of Irish hard- and soft-shoe style. It makes not one bit of narrative or pure-dance sense. In total, it suggests that Flatley is not competent to choreograph in styles foreign to him yet doesn’t trust Irish dance to carry a show. Heavy reliance on giant-screen travelogue video of Ireland, fireworks, blasting music and sound effects, and the showing of lots and lots of female skin support that theory.

Part of me agrees with Flatley, that exposed navels and lots of cleavage improve Irish dance. However, it’s not the part with a highly developed aesthetic sense.

The highly developed part appreciates Flatley as a hoofer. He’s really splendid when he just dances. In one delicious phrase, he glided backward the width of the vast stage, clicking out effortless triples in counterpoint to the duple music. He has the barrel-chested, winning presence of Gene Kelly to go with outstanding technique and musicality. I wish I could see him in a solo show, just him and some acoustic musicians, without the flash pots and the fleshpots.

This review is also good:

Subtlety is conspicuously absent from Michael Flatley’s latest spectacle, “Celtic Tiger.” His earlier “Riverdance” at least included a semblance of a storyline, real singing (not lip synching) and lots of thrilling Irish step dancing. But his works since have become less about the artistry and spirit embedded in Irish culture, even if shrouded in a New Age overlay, and more about the vacuous pomposity of Flatley himself.

Gone is the Flatley who managed, barely, to float the cheesy “Riverdance” follow-up, “Lord of the Dance,” with the sheer chutzpah of his riveting footwork and rhythmic musicality. In “Celtic Tiger,” presented Tuesday at Target Center in Minneapolis, he mostly preens and prances across the stage like a warrior king fresh from an HBO miniseries. Or he’s costumed like a star-spangled Liberace conducting the feet of his young dancers, tapping in forceful unison, and amplified so the sound reverberates in your chest.

All woefully true. He was still a talented dancer, but the show as a whole just blew. I don’t think I’ll be getting the DVD of this one. I was surprised that the composer, Ronan Hardiman, let me down as well, because I really like the music for Lord Of The Dance. Oh well.

And the ugly:
We went to the Skins game today and they lost to the Chargers. We did have fun, though, met my dad around noon and Jill got us some sweet seats in the 10th row of the end zone. And they had Red Hook on tap. Fun afternoon, but I’m pooped.

Good ?:
Hopefully tomorrow is good, planning on heading up to Baltimore to catch BNL with a friend.

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