DVD review entries

April 15, 2005

Feet of Flames

Writing about web page http://www.amazon.co.uk

5 out of 5 stars

Ok, well, I'm seriously bored and being rather unproductive, so here I am, writing a DVD review. I've not been able to concentrate on work today (no idea why, just one of those days I guess), so here goes:

Feet of Flames, starring Michael Flatley was recorded live in Hyde Park London, July 1998. What is it? Well, it's a dance spectacular, expanded version of "Lord of the Dance". So you might not be surprised to hear I think it's pretty excellent.

It's much longer than the Lord of the Dance though – nearly two hours total timing. It has 30 seperate dances, from the opening "Cry of the Celts" (familiar, perhaps?), to "Breakout", and "Victory", interspersed with some instrumental numbers like "Strings of Fire" and "Whistling Wind", where Michael Flatley demonstrates his abilities as a flautist. A dancer, and a flautist? Controversial.

Having once seen the video of Riverdance (the Dublin original), I saw this on amazon and, at a mere £7, I decided to buy it. I wasn't disappointed. From start to finish it's truly excellent. The dances look original and lively, yet are extremely well polished. Camera work, lighting, and editing are all really good. Not bad considering it's filmed at dusk going on into the night! It also doesn't feel like it's 2 hours long. At the end you wonder where all the time has gone.

The only thing that might be said against it is that the start is a little slow. After the opening "Cry of the Celts" the second act is a rather unremarkable song by the character "Erin the Goddess", who comes back two more times. Following that is the "Celtic Dream" a rather lengthy, slow dance that seems to last slightly too long. But after that it's "Warriors", where the tapping really starts to show it's class. It's all fab from then on.

Michael Flatley and his co-leads (Gillian Norris and Bernadette Flynn) all perform excellently, along with the dancer playing the "Dark Lord" that unfortunately I can't remember the name of. Some people really dislike Flatley because he's so flamboyant. I can understand that – he is a bit over the top, but for me if you're going to be the lead dancer in a show like Riverdance or Feet of Flames I think you have to be a bit like that! Despite that, Flatley himself does take it very easy in the first part of the show, appearing in the first act and then making himself scarce until about the 9th act. I suspect this is because he's saving himself for some gruelling solo routines later on. Although he can still tap mightilly impressively, you suspect watching him that he's finding it more difficult than he used to. In fact, my mum relates a story she heard that in between dances he had to sit with his feet in buckets of ice! Whether that relates to this show or not, I have no idea… The Dark Lord for example, seems to find his tapping easier. Whether that's because his routines are easier, I don't know. But still, anyone who can do 35 taps in a single second deserves much respect!

So, if Michael Flatley doesn't put you off, you'll enjoy this. My two favourite routines in the show are the two "Siamsa's". The first one is the best – it has great music, great choreography and is full of energy throughout. Bernadette Flynn also does some excellent solo performances as the Irish Coleen (or something), my favourite one being round about act 14 where she does a solo dance full of taps. It's the quality of the tapping all round in this show that makes it something else.
The other co-lead, Gillian Norris also does well playing the seductive "Gypsy". She doesn't smile very often, it seems, but that could be an intentional part of her on-stage character.

As night falls properly, the momentum of the show keeps going, until after another confrontation between the Dark Lord's Warriors, and the Lord of the Dance's Warlords in "Hell's Kitchen" and "Dangerous Games" (featuring a heroic intervention from Flatley), eventually we end up at the familiar conclusion of Lord of the Dance, with "Nightmare" and after an amusing "Duel" between Flatley and the Dark Lord, "Victory". But the show doesn't end there. There follows a seriously impressive solo routine from Flatley (though it looks painful to be honest!), followed by the finale "Planet Ireland" by way of an encore. The ending is a slight anticlimax to be honest, but that's a small complaint on my part.

So overall, it gets 5 stars from me. I've watched it several times already, and will probably do so again to avoid revision. Well, actually, I've lent it to Lu, so I'll have to get it back from her first :-)

It retails on Amazon for £5.97. Buy it!

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