Lord of the Dance 3D (review)

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(if you’re Michael Flatley)

(if you’re anyone else)

“This is going to be the greatest show of my life,” dancer, choreographer, flautist, and professional egomaniac Michael Flatley informs us as Lord of the Dance 3D opens. And it will be: because every show is the greatest show of his life… at least for values of “great” that encompass cheese-a-riffic Vegas razzle dazzle: Flatley puts the tacky in spectackylar, and he is oh-so proud to do so. Three-dee cameras shot several nights of his Lord of the Dance stage show, the global phenomenon that is like what might happen if Albus Dumbledore used some powerful illegal magic to meld Busby Berkeley, pagan ritual, Cirque du Soleil, and Irish folk dancing… on ice! (No, not really on ice. That’s coming in 2012. No, not really. But now that the idea as been planted in Flatley’s head…) The dancing is pretty amazing, it must be said: the dancers seem to positively float across the stage with their jazzed-up Irish stepdancing. And this is a pretty good use of 3D: it’s as close a replica to actually being in the audience of the stage show as you can get. But the production is weighted down by Flatley’s ego: he’s a black hole of an attention hog at the center of it all. Yes, he is technically a very fine dancer, but he can’t resist casting himself as the savior-god in the laughable good-versus-evil story that frames the setpieces: fascist-robot-stormtrooper types stomp across the stage and, as the culmination of their terrible crimes, steal the flute of the poor Sequin Jester Sprite — she’s a sort of Holy Ghost who summons Jesus, aka the Lord of the Dance, aka Flatley. We should hardly be surprised then — though you may want to snicker with derision — when Flatley performs a miracle and remakes the magic flute. It’s like an opera for dummies. Or, no, it’s like this: These shows were filmed in Dublin, which Flatley pretends is his home ground, even though he’s an American from Chicago — he is, however, professionally Irish. And the same can be said for the slick slew of mythology and culture on offer here: it’s professionally Irish. For very sparkly shiny values of “Irish.”

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