Michael Flatley’s famous ‘Celtic Tiger’ show opened in July 2005. This was his third big venture following ‘Riverdance’ which famously aired during the intermission on the 1994 Eurovision song contest and then ‘Lord of the Dance’ which premiered in 1996. This production, which seeks to explore Irish heritage and world cultures, is available for viewing curtsey of ‘The show must go on’ series. What it quite apparent from the start is that unfortunately, Flatley’s production has not stood the test of time and entertainment has come a long way in the last 15 years.
‘Celtic Tiger’ feels more like a variety show than a collaborative piece of entertainment. There is a mixture of solo songs, dance sequels and instrumentals which I have no problems with if they all tied together and made sense, but this felt too much like a primary school Christmas concert. The garden of Eden montage was particularly cringe–worthy as the dancers are all wearing fairy wings that really were made for kids. Later in the show we are brought some raunchy strip-teases and a woman in an American bikini pretending to play ‘Yankee doodle’ all amongst the ‘tributes’ to the 1916 Easter rising, the Irish famine and other huge political struggles and historic moments. I was left feeling a little confused and being Irish myself, partially insulted.
Do not get me wrong, the choreography is incredible, and the dancers are extraordinary. I am in complete awe of the talented performers as they execute step after step after step with precision like you have never seen before. The dancers who are in this show are top of their game, they will all have worked so hard since they were 3 or 4 years old to be the best dancers in the country. Flatley was creative, innovative and definitely different and what he created from Irish Dancing is quite remarkable. He sold out stadiums with his shows and made a very old traditional “cool” in some respects. He certainly put Irish dancing on the world’s radar when he created ‘Riverdance’ and we have a lot to thank him for however I just wish he wouldn’t upstage all the true talent with tacky costumes and tasteless stereotypes.
Michael Flatley is also a talented musician and he plays the flute a number of times during this show. Some of the instrumentals moments which included four (young, beautiful, females in skimpy costumes) talented musicians playing the fiddle were probably my highlight but again, their movements alongside the music does not feel natural– or necessary.
I usually like to ask myself if I have learnt something or felt inspired following any entertainment. What I know following ‘Celtic Tiger’ is that I still love to watch Irish dancing and can appreciate what Flatley did for the industry. There is something very soothing and satisfying about hearing the steps, enjoying the beat and watching the incredible unison of the big numbers. Seeing the famous ‘domino’ arm movements, you can appreciate the talent, rehearsal and skills required to create something this unique and precise. The dancers are inspiring, they don’t move across the stage, the glide but in terms of the show itself, I was hoping it was older than 15 years. I am sure it would have been a completely different review 15 years ago but for now, I am glad we have moved away from ‘the men clapping the ladies as they dance for them’ and I would be excited to see what a modern Irish Dance show of this magnitude could achieve.
‘Celtic Tiger’ will be available on The Shows Must Go On YouTube page from Friday 3rd July at 7pm for a full 48 hours.
Reviewer: Blathine Maguire
Reviewed: 4th July 2020
North West End UK Rating: ★★