Sunday 22 October 2017

Michael O'Doherty: 'Flashy, shallow and full of cliches - Lord of the Dance perfect for Trump'

Michael Flatley introduces Lord of the Dance during Trump's inauguration
Michael Flatley introduces Lord of the Dance during Trump's inauguration
Michael Flatley and company perform on stage during the "Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games" Broadway opening night at the Lyric Theatre on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/WireImage)
Michael O'Doherty

Michael O'Doherty

It's unusual for an organisation to publicly deny it was involved in one of the highest-profile events of the year. However, this was the course of action adopted by the Riverdance people who, on their official Twitter feed last Thursday, stressed that they were not performing at Donald Trump's inauguration party. For good measure, they said it again on Saturday.

They felt compelled to do so lest anyone confuse their show with that of their nemesis, Michael Flatley, whose Lord of the Dance was wheeled out at the Liberty Ball in Washington.

In going to such lengths to distance themselves from the event, they gave a thinly veiled message as to how little they want to be associated with the US president, a man who has already divided the world with his blatant racism and misogyny.

No such qualms seemed to bother Flatley, however, who solemnly declared of Trump, "May God bless him and guide him", before introducing his Lord of the Dance troupe.

Dancer Michael Flatley (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)
Dancer Michael Flatley (Photo by Jo Hale/Getty Images)

During a cringe-inducing 10-minute performance, a mini- Flatley in tight leather trousers prowled the stage, egging on his backing dancers dressed in tight muscle-shirts and flat caps. Their set was followed by the appearance of comely maidens in flowing gowns, who were then joined by the male dancers, this time in leather waistcoats opened to reveal bare and oiled chests.

It was the kind of show that makes you embarrassed to be Irish, purporting as it does to reflect our cultural heritage, but instead being nothing more than a flashy, shallow bit of theatre packaged to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Which, of course, is why Trump likes it so much.

Three-and-a-half years ago, Flatley appeared on Piers Morgan's Life Stories TV show and told of how he was once stopped by US police for driving a Ferrari at 170mph while a woman was performing a sex act on him.

Michael Flatley and company perform on stage during the
Michael Flatley and company perform on stage during the "Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games" Broadway opening night at the Lyric Theatre on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/WireImage)

It wasn't just the story that was shocking, it was Flatley's enthusiasm to share it, for a then 55-year-old to leave no one in any doubt about how virile he was.

While Flatley has never plummeted to the Trump-like depths of vulgarity when it comes to his treatment of women, his narcissistic, male-dominated shows and his casual description of faceless sexual encounters makes it easy to see why he shared a stage with Trump at the weekend.

Just like Trump's policies, Lord of the Dance purports to be a novel, dynamic, original approach to the subject, but if you scratch below the surface it's just a jumble, re-hashed and re-packaged to appeal to the lazy, the ignorant and the easily impressed.

Preening, shallow and pandering to the lowest common denominator with crass stereotypes and undertones of misogyny, it's hard to think of two more appropriate bedfellows.

Michael Flatley and Donald Trump - separated at birth but together at last.

Herald

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