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Review: Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. Picture by Philip Walsh

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

Waterfront Hall, Belfast, February 5-10

If you had to list the cultural definers of contemporary Irishness, you'd include Seamus Heaney, Van Morrison, maybe The Pogues and definitely Michael Flatley.

After all, he exploded onto the Eurovision dance floor in Dublin in 1996 with his version of traditional dancing that blew everyone away.

Partly for the sheer sexiness of all that leg action, partly because of the music and the fact it still referenced the dances that many of us learnt at a tender age.

Fast forward 20 years and the Flatley brand is going strong. Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is the most recent incarnation and it filled the Waterfront Hall.

Mr Flatley and his creative team have maybe, though, been a bit too creative.

They've invented a big good versus evil narrative, over-dressed the baddie (excellent Tom Cunningham, fighting the Dark Lord's Darth Vader costume) and thrown in some risque routines.

The sequence where the women, in a Bucks Fizz moment, strip off their cute dresses to dance in black bra and tights is bold and certainly not what you learnt aged seven.

They have great moves, and indeed navels, but although the technical team looked up, I'm not sure it adds to the high energy show.

As the story unfolds, we get some nice female performances from Caroline Gray as heroine Saoirse and Andrea Kwern as bad girl Morrighan the seducer (boo!).

Gerard Fahy's music is big and Rachael O Connor has some swooping soul-influenced numbers as Erin the Goddess.

But the best dance sequences are those where the choreography led by Marie Duffy Pask returns to its roots.

During the interval, I passed a young girl doing some traditional dance for her mother. Her delight and skill underlined what this show is all about.

For the Lord of the Dance formula works best channelling that original excitement.

There are lyrical dances with horses and a unicorn beamed onto the screen - well, Theresa May was in town.

At the first half finale, the whole team, with brilliant front man James Keegan tapping his heart out, made the audience go wild.

As they did at the stonking sequence which rounded off this enjoyable show.

Jane Hardy

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