Talking with Michael Flatley about Dangerous Games

“Of course, in the very beginning nobody believed that we could do it,” says Michael Flatley. “We’re 20 years long in the tooth now, and the show is, I would say, more powerful today than it was even in the beginning.”

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games James Keegan as Lord of the Dance ©Tristram Kenton
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games
James Keegan as Lord of the Dance
©Tristram Kenton

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is a new staging of Flatley’s Irish dance spectacular that was originally produced in 1996. It tells a story based on Irish folklore about a battle between good and evil—and a passionate romance.

Flatley’s productions characteristically combine traditional Irish dance and music with modern stage technologies. This new version presents 34 toe-tapping dancers along with holographs, dancing robots, digital projections and world champion acrobats.

Why re-imagine a show that has already been seen by more than 60 million people in 68 countries?

Well, says Flatley, “there’s a level that we try to achieve, and that is to enhance it, to make it more exciting, more visually appealing.”

“The thing is, in my life I’m just crazy busy all the time,” he continues. “But I went in to watch the show in Killarney, and I had all these ideas and I thought, ‘You know what? I’m just going to start right now and do a rebuild.’ So we attacked it. We took it apart and we rebuilt it from top to bottom.”

That included commissioning a new score from Gerard Fahy. Flatley, himself a flautist with an album to his name, describes Fahy as “a gifted young Irish composer.”

In addition, the choreography is new; the costumes are new; the sets are new.

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games ©Tristram Kenton
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games
©Tristram Kenton

“It’s pretty spectacular,” says Flatley, “and I think it’s very entertaining for old people, young people, children. It’s a family show and I’m proud of that.”

One challenge is finding the right balance between the latest technologies and a respect for tradition.

Flatley—who has received heritage awards for his work with traditional art forms—acknowledges the company’s attention to “the constraints of doing everything properly. We’re not a tap or ballet company, or hiphop. What we do is so unique, and I’m respectful to that. But having said that, it’s an ancient dance that we have brought into the future, and we must do the same with our stage set and our lighting and our sound. Even with composer Gerard Fahy, we work very hard to take the music into the future while still remaining true to the original line of the music, which is the discipline of Irish music and Irish dance.”

There is a balancing act, too, between the state-of-the-art spectacle and the ability of the show to prompt heartfelt emotional reactions. “One would not work without the other,” says Flatley. “You have to have that show quality, you have to have that excitement, you have to take people to a new place. You have to keep them engaged at all times. If you lose them attention for a second, you know, it’s really hard to get them back. So the show has to be built around a certain flow. There have to be ups and downs.”

Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games James Keegan as Lord of the Dance ©Tristram Kenton
Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games
James Keegan as Lord of the Dance
©Tristram Kenton

The aim is to get the right blend of music and dance, of movement and colour and speed and precision, of narrative and spectacle—to find “the combination of things, really, that gets inside of people’s heart and soul,” Flatley says. The payoff: “They leave feeling positive about life. They leave feeling uplifted and energy-charged. When people watch it, they’re hooked.”

But what, exactly, are the “dangerous games”? Flatley laughs.

“I’m not telling you,” he says. “You’ll have to come and see the show. I can’t give that away.”


Tuesday 15 September – Sunday 20 September 2015

Crown Theatre

Bookings: Call Ticketmaster on 136 100 or, to book online, click here.


Wednesday 23 September – Sunday 27 September 2015

Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Theatre Mode

Bookings: Call Ticketek on 132 849 or, to book online, click here.


Tuesday 29 September – Sunday 4 October 2015

Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre

Bookings:  Call Arts Centre Melbourne 1300 182 183 or to book online, click here.


Tuesday 6 October – Sunday 11 Oct 2015

Canberra Theatre

Bookings:  Call Canberra Theatre Centre 02 6275 2700 or to book online, click here.


Tuesday 13 October – Friday 16 October 2015

Concert Hall, QPAC

Bookings: Call  QPAC on 136 246 or, to book online, click here.


Saturday 17 October – Sunday 18 October 2015

Jupiters Hotel & Casino

Bookings:  Call Ticketek on 132 849 or, to book online, click here.


Tuesday 20 October – Sunday 25 October 2015

Capitol Theatre

Bookings:  Call Ticketmaster on 136 100 or, to book online, click here.



Jeannette Delamoir

An ex-Queenslander and former academic, Jeannette has also managed a three-screen arthouse cinema in upstate New York, sold theatre tickets in London, and baked brownies at a cafe called Sweet Stuff.

Jeannette Delamoir

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