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CELTIC-L  April 1997

CELTIC-L April 1997

Subject:

Re: Flatley vs. Dunne

From:

James J Cain <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CELTIC-L - The Celtic Culture List.

Date:

Thu, 24 Apr 1997 00:44:43 PST

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (118 lines)

On Wed, 23 Apr 1997 15:02:23 EDT Bruce L Jones <[log in to unmask]>
writes:
><snips>
>On Mon, 21 Apr 1997 23:09:58 PST James J Cain <[log in to unmask]>
>writes:
>
>>My Mother always told me to leave well enough alone...but then my
>>Mother will tell you I was a willful child who rarely listened to
>>advice...
>
>>I've been "listening" to all of the negative comments about Michael
>>Flatley hereon...
>
>> ... and I'm beginning to wonder if there are two Michael Flatleys in
>the world.  I >remember Flatley when he toured with The Chieftians,
>remember someone at a >Feis telling me about the kid from Chicago who
>had become the first American to >win the All-Ireland before
>that...and never a discouraging word in all of
>>that.
>>When "Riverdance" first hit...nothing but praise.
>>All of a sudden he's fooking Typhoid Larry.
>>Now I will admit that the dancing in "Lord of the Dance" is not what
>>wins at Feiseanna and I think Flatley would admit that.  "Lord of the
>>Dance" isn't a Feis...it's a rock and roll ballet based solidly in
>>Irish step dancing and Irish music (Ronan Hardiman, the show's
>>composer is from Ireland and, truth be known, I like his music better
>>than Whelan's). And it is a wonderful entertainment.
>
>Well now, not all agree. Michael Flatley is a genuinely talented
>dancer. Yes, he deservedly won feis competitions and, yes, he
>choreographed Riverdance and so forth. The entire point to some
>patrons is that they really love the more traditional interpretations
>of Irish dance and they feel that Flatley's newer "rock and roll
>ballet" type of presentation is a bastardization of a finer art form.
>
>Some observers also object to Flatley's personal style in LOTD which
>seems more self-absorbed and glitzy - "Hollywood or Americanized" if
>you will - than what they like to see in Irish dancing. I heard one
>fellow (shields up) who referred to Flatley's performance in LOTD as a
>"homosexual's Riverdance". I don't know if I would go that far. I have
>seen the LOTD video and I didn't enjoy it as much as Riverdance. Part
>of that dissatisfaction is the production value of the video itself -
>which could have been much better. Personally, I do know that I much
>preferred (as did my wife) Mr. Dunne's performance in Riverdance over
>LOTD (I even liked him better than Flatley in Riverdance). Flatley may
>have done the original choreography, but Colin's interpretation is
>stronger in a more traditional and masculine way that suits my
>personal taste more (and apparently my wife's as well).
>
>Of course, we are only two people. We endorse what we personally like.
>This may be the only real point, the only real critique. It is more a
>matter of preference of personal style, but most of appreciation of
>the arts is exactly that. Otherwise, why the diversity of, say, Pablo
>Picasso vice Edouard Manet? There is diversity simply because our
>tastes are different.
>
>Bruce L. Jones
>The Mojave Desert - The Geographic Center of Nowhere

Bruce

I believe I said in my posting that , to the best of my knowledge,
Flatley has never claimed that he is doing "traditional" Irish step dancing in LOTD...that it is a sort of rock and roll ballet firmly based in traditional Irish step dancing.  It is not a feis.  But just for the
halibut, as the fisherman said, I asked folks at my weekly luncheon of the "we oughta have a secret handshake" bunch and came up with a Flatley
to Dunne (I called him Cahal...it is Colin, I stabnd corrected)
preference.  All agreed that Dunne is an excellent dancer, but those who
saw the "Riverdance" number which was part of a recent Kennedy Center
Awards presentation (Among the honorees were Jack Lemmon, Johnny Cash,
Maria Tallchief, Edward Albee...I'm forgetting a couple) with Dunne in
the lead felt that it was not the same as when Flatley did it.  Part of
it is stylistic differences and, probably, physical characteristics.  Dunne has a dark and saturnine look, to me he appears darker and heavier
[Not fatter or chunkier "heavier, but more earth-bound.] on stage, he is
Caliban to Flatley's Ariel.
Hey...if you prefer one style to another, that's perfectly legit.  I must
say I don't find Flatley's style un-masculine...nor have any of the women
I've spoken to.  And the "homosexual Riverdance" crack is exactly the
kind of thing that led me to post what I did. It has been my experience
that when terms like "homosexual" and "More masculine" start flying,
other agenda are often being addressed.
I once had a critic say of a production of "Twelth Night" which I had
directed..."Cain has taken a beautiful play and made it too
bawdy."...although I put not a thing into the production which Willie S.
had not put into the script.
Irish dance is not the liturgy of the Mass (and even that has changed) and the tenor of the criticism that he has bastardized a finer art form
treats Irish dance just like that, just as people believe that you are
sullying a finer art form by doing Shakespeare any differently than the
Victorians did...complete with Dr. Bowdler's moral editings.  And that's
just the end result of the digestive process of a male bovine.
No one says you have to like the changes...that there are changes doesn't
mean they are the permanent future of the art or that the art has been
[Gasp!] ruine/d. But when folks go beyond saying "I don't like that!"
or, even better, "I don't like that because...a,b,c,etc." to personal attacks...(according to what I've read herein, Flatley is a pathetic,
self-absorbed, egoistic, homosexual stud-turkey whose baby-oiled bare
chest and Elvis-like pelvis movements and leering hanging over the
female dancers will make your bile rise.) we've gone from honest
artistic disagreements to...you know where I've heard all this meadow
muffin nonsense before?  In 1956...when Elvis hit the scene...usually
from guys who felt threatened because their lady friends were much more turned on to Elvis than to Bubba.  This is a typical Bubba response.
Bruce, I have no argument with your and your wife's preference...why the
hell would I?
But you are in a minority...both by being fair in your disagreement and in your preference.  The crowd I was in loved it, people came from all
over Ohio to Dayton for the two performances here. [Appros of nothing
but I just discovered that Ohio is 10,000 square miles larger than all
of Ireland...okay, 9,000 and change...41,000 to 32,000 - rounded down.)
It is selling out all over the country.  The album is selling well...as
I said, wee Michael is smiling all the way to the bank.
Finally...two points.  I agree totally about the tape...it's a piece of
drek.  It badly filmed, badly lighted...the slow-motion sequences add
absolutely nothing but take away a lot and the rock-concert crowd was
annoying.  It was a different event entirely in person.
And...as regards traditional style, "Riverdance" was also criticized for
breaking with some traditions, like raising the arms from the stiff at the side position.  True, that's Flatley's influence, but I personally
didn't think it detracted...may have added even.

Sla/n

JimC

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