Good vibrations – ‘Lord of the Dance’
On stage, she plays the outgoing Morrighan the Temptress who sometimes blows kisses to men in the front row, off stage, she is a dancer who has worked her way up the ranks of performers while quietly supporting her fellow dancers.At 27, Ciara Lennon is the oldest dancer performing in “Lord of the Dance.”Based on old Irish folklore, “Lord of the Dance” is a parable of good vs. evil., told through heart-stopping dancing and colorful music. When the Dark Lord challenges the Lord of the Dance, a collision of opposing dancers battle for power. A passionate love story ensues when a seductress named Morrighan temps the Lord and vies for his attention. Much to Morrighan’s dismay, the good girl wins.The show, which has been the highest grossing dance production in the world since it opened in Dublin in 1996, hits the stage at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek on Saturday for two performances at 4 and 8 p.m.
“If my wife finds out that they’re here, I might have a hard time not going,” said Arthur Kittay of Eagle, who saw the show in Denver. “From the beginning to the end, you’re sorry that the show is up because it’s just exciting. The audience goes crazy. “I happen to like all Irish dancing. It’s vibrant, its exciting,” Kittay said.This Irish dancing adds a modern flare to the traditional elements of Celtic dance.”‘Lord of the Dance’ is not ballet. It’s not tap. It’s not Flamenco. It’s something that I created from scratch because nothing else was just right,” said Michael Flatly, creator of “Lord of the Dance.”Lennon describes the style as a bit looser than traditional Irish dancing where the back is rigid and the arms remain at your sides. The steps are performed in unison, but the bodies are freer.
“I try keep the show tight and keep everyone on their toes – literally,” she said.As dance captain, to keep the crew running smoothly, Lennon encourages togetherness on and off the stage. She said she keeps her stage role separate from her social interactions, though it comes naturally to her.”We’re just like one big family,” Lennon said. “A lot of people are away from home and I’m a bit older, so I would look out for people naturally,” she said. “But we all look out for each other.” The feeling of unity is apparent even through the sound of their feet. About 60 percent of the show is dedicated to what Lennon calls trebbling, where the dancers wear fiberglass tips on their shoes to make noise as their toes tap the floors in unison. “Each number has a story,” Lennon said. “There’s highs and lows within each number and the noise signifies that.”
Trebbling is often compared to tap dancing, however in Irish dancing the feet are crossed whereas in tap dancing the feet are side by side. Lennon knows the national art form well. She’s been a cast member since 1998 and dancing since she can remember.Born in Dundalk, a small town on the border between Northern and Southern Ireland, Lennon has never known a life without dance. Her mother, a dancer too, runs an Irish dancing school, which left Lennon without a choice when it came to learning the art form.”Basically since I could walk, she was showing me the basics,” Lennon said from a hotel room in Greely where the troupe is performing. “I loved everything about it, the music and the rhythms. It is fortunate that I can now make a career out of it.”
That career has put Irish dancing on the map.”It definitely exposes the wealthy culture that we have and preserve and showcases the talents of people from Ireland,” Lennon said. “People were signing their kids up for dancing lessons left right and center. People have grown appreciation for our country and culture, in terms of worldwide it’s brought Ireland to the floor. “It’s been a huge influence for the better, even on the terms of my mom owning a dancing school,” Lennon said. Lennon recalls the first time her mother came to watch her perform.”I was nervous and excited,” she said. “She knows exactly what a dancer should and should not do. She’s very proud.”
While Lennon said the show is pleasing to all walks of life, the older she gets, the more she realizes what the audience wants. She knows what the dancers want, too.”Most of the shows if not all of them end with a standing ovation, and it makes us want to keep going night after night. The better the audience, the better we dance. For more information or to buy tickets, call 845-TIXS (8497) or go to http://www.vilar.org.
Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 619, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado