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Review: Clay Center crowd loves Irish dance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At long last, the "Lord of the Dance" arrived in Charleston.

Sooner or later, most major shows seem to find their way to the Clay Center and Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance" is one of the best known.

Wednesday's night's Broadway in Charleston show wasn't a sellout, but it had a respectable crowd for a school night and the fact that it is a dance, which typically draw a smaller audience.

It appeared much of the audience who came out knew a little something about dance. They were fans and clearly loved what they saw. They shouted, they clapped and by the end, they were on their feet to reward the dancers with a standing ovation.

Much of the crowd was enthralled by the fancy footwork, but I wasn't one of them. That isn't to say I didn't enjoy "Lord of the Dance," I just seemed to enjoy it less than the average person in the audience.

There was still a lot to like. The dancers were beautiful and moved with a fluid grace matched by a percussive style that seemed somewhat familiar in these parts. The patterns they moved in were interesting to watch, but it seemed somewhat repetitive, like the troupe was doing the same trick over and over, just dressing it up slightly differently.

What worked for me were the scenes with the Don Dorcha and his evil minions. Those had the most drama and were probably the easiest for someone without a lot of dance background to follow.

To be honest, the bad guy costumes looked a little like the cast-off duds from an old "Power Rangers" TV episode. At first glance, they seemed to conjure up the classic, comic villain; an obstacle who usually undoes himself with only a little help from the crafty hero.

Don Dorcha and his gang were anything but comic. Moving together, the dark dancers created a sleek menace that was exciting to watch. They became like the nameless goblins of Middle Earth or the faceless storm troopers of "Star Wars."

The life and death struggle between the Lord of the Dance and his nemesis was engaging. Some of the other parts, like the romantic rivalry between Saoirse and Morrighan the temptress (kind of a bad girl versus good girl fight over our hero) weren't that exciting.

Also, it seemed like the sound was a little off, particularly during the vocalist's first song. The music seemed to overpower her singing and muddled the lyrics. I couldn't tell if she was singing in English or Gaelic. 

This may not have been a problem for anyone else.

"Lord of the Dance" might have been a great show if you love dance, but for me, it was only pretty good.

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.

 


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