Riverdance Turns 25

I couldn’t let today pass without acknowledging the 25th anniversary of a show that changed my life: Riverdance. The stage show began as a 7-minute act performed during an intermission at the Eurovision Song Contest on April 30, 1994. The performance was a smash hit with the audience, causing a chain reaction that breathed new life into Irish dancing around the world. The great minds behind this phenomenon are composer Bill Whelan, director John McColgan, featured dancers Jean Butler and Michael Flatley who also contributed choreography, producer Moya Doherty, and, of course, the rest of the hardworking crew & talented company of dancers.

Four years after Riverdance made its grand debut, I received a VHS from a family friend, a tape of the show during its 1995 debut run in Dublin. Four-year-old me had no idea my life was about to change. I can’t even tell you how many times that tape played while I leaped & twirled across the living room floor. It wasn’t long before I was taking my first tap class. Did I become an Irish dancer? No. Did I bring every ounce of passion I possessed as a proud Irish girl into ballet, jazz, modern, & tap classes for 12 1/2 years? YES I DID!!! 🔥

It’s hard to explain how much this show means to me, but believe me when I say it holds a very VERY special place in my heart. It was not only my introduction to the dance culture in both Ireland & Spain but also my introduction to dance. I lost my passion & did not pursue a career as a dancer, but I never lost my love for all things dance. To this day, I drag my dad to the theater if Riverdance visits our neck of the woods (he knows he loves it!). I’ve seen it five times, & I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

To the Riverdance companies & crews: From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all that you have done. Happy Anniversary! I am looking forward to 25 more years of this special show!

Do yourself a favor & watch the moment when it all began:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAtkcHpSHCw

P.S. Shout out to María Pagés, the original flamenco dancer in Riverdance & my Spanish queen since the age of 4. 🇪🇸

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk6LYFwP8lE

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Dance Until The Music Stops

This is a difficult subject for me to discuss, but this blog is like my diary so I need to be honest.  I recently took on the project of turning my dance recital DVDs into digital files so I could put all of my routines into one video.  Doing so brought up a lot of good memories but also an equal amount of bad memories.  I am my own worst critique.  It is a rare occasion for me to watch myself dance and think that I did a good job.  Watching old routines makes me realize how hard a time I had as a dancer.  Was I a good dancer?  Yes.  Was I a great dancer?  No.  What made the difference?  Fear.  The biggest problem I see when I dance is my tentativeness.  I was never able to to dance without flooding my mind with doubts and fears:  “Do I look fat in this costume?”  “No one will watch me if I look fat!”  “Suck in your stomach!”  “Do I remember all the steps?”  “What if I forget the routine?”  “I’m going to forget something!”  “That was a terrible performance!”  “I never want to dance again!”  That’s the basic idea of my dancer’s brain.  Never stopping, never quiet.  Unfortunately, I fall into the category of dancers who’ve fallen prey to distorted body image and eating disorders.  I went to extreme lengths to lose weight.  I thought that if I looked more like a ballerina, I would improve at dancing.  At the time I thought my body was an eyesore, but now I realize I was indeed skinny.  I looked the part, but it wasn’t by healthy measures.  I loved to dance, but I could never overcome the obstacle of fear.  When I first watched “Riverdance” on VHS and saw Michael Flatley and Jean Butler dance, I had no reservations.  I just wanted to dance!  Somewhere along the way, I allowed fear to beat me down and destroy my passion.

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”  – Merce Cunningham

• On a happier note, I will forever be grateful for my dance mates.  No one understands the bond between dancers until you have navigated the ups and downs of dance with the same group for years.

I want to encourage boys, girls, men & women dealing with these or similar struggles.  Please don’t let fear run your life!  Take one step at a time and give your all to whatever you are doing.  Failure wont harm you so don’t be afraid to try.  If it doesn’t work out, don’t blame yourself.  When dance turned out to be a stepping stone in my life, I blamed myself for being fat and lacking talent.  The truth is God had always intended for me to turn my attention to something else.  Each and every one of us is dealing with obstacles.  You are not alone!

• It is time to start dancing with abandon & have some fun! :D

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcWPiHjIExA

• I leave you with wise words from a special group of vegetables. ;)

Source: https://twitter.com/veggietales/status/421387397167722496

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Dream Come True

Words cannot describe the experience I had last night.  I waited 17 long years to see my favorite dancer and dance inspiration Michael Flatley perform in person.  FINALLY, my dream came true.  If you don’t know much about Michael, his decades-long career has produced a long list of injuries, some that are irreversible.  Despite living with pain, Michael is giving his fans one last chance to see him dance.  Even though he appeared in “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games” for a short period of time, those few minutes were leaps and bounds above the rest of the show.  How can I not be content knowing that he is suffering to say thank you to his fans in person?  No one else but Michael could dance a few steps and get away with it.  When he stepped onstage, I had the biggest, cheesiest grin on my face.  I don’t even care what I looked like because I felt five years old and free as a bird in that moment.

Mr. Flatley has earned quite the reputation.  He had a bumpy start due to a creative dispute with “Riverdance” colleagues.  Even though the eventual split led to the creation of “Lord of the Dance”, success brought with it rockstar behavior.  I don’t care about all of that now because Michael has overcome problems of the past and grown into the role model I always believed him to be.  When I was 5 years old, I received a gift: a VHS tape of “Riverdance” with Michael Flatley & Jean Butler.  The number of times I watched that tape and mimicked the dancers is incalculable.  I didn’t know how or where; all I knew was I had to dance.  I didn’t go on to dance professionally, but some of my most treasured memories come from dancing for eleven 1/2 years.  Michael Flatley revived Irish dancing and made it a worldwide phenomenon.  On a personal level, he sparked a desire within me to dance and see how far I could go.  For that, I will forever be grateful.

* * * Special thank you to my dad for buying the tickets and taking me to the show.  Rain, Italian food, Starbucks, & Michael Flatley.  That is one heck of a daddy-daughter date! :D

• The Birth of Riverdance

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0v_pu6miJ8

• “Feet of Flames”, my favorite incarnation of “Lord of the Dance”

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0WfSm6-vQU

• Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h1bn4C4Wo0

“Whenever I hear, ‘It can’t be done,’ I know I’m close to success.”  – Michael Flatley

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Lord of the Dance | Blogmas 2015

Okay readers.  Time to cheer up and put some life back into Blogmas 2015.  Prepare for a freak out in 3…2…1…

YEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!  THIS IS THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER!!!!!!!!!!  Michael Flatley, my dance hero and the reason I started dancing.  He is FINALLY coming to California.  I am crying tears of joy!!!!!!!!!!  This is the best thing that has happened in my life in a loooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

I have NEVER seen Michael Flatley live, only on “Riverdance” and “Feet of Flames” VHS tapes over and over and over and over and over again.  My Christmas has suddenly taken  a turn for the better.  Click the links & witness the majesty:

• Michael Flatley Youtube Channel

• Michael Flatley Website

For those of you wanting to purchase tickets to the “Lord of the Dance United States Tour 2016,” click this link – USA

I am beyond excited and already have a countdown on my phone.  God help the person, place, or thing that tries to get in the way of me seeing Michael Flatley live.  There will be hellfire and brimstone if that happens!!!!!  On a lighter, sweeter note, I am watching Christmas movies and waiting to go to work.  I hope you are having a lovely, relaxing Saturday. :)

Vlogmas – Lauren Michele

10 days until Artmas – Lauren Michele Photography – WordPress.com

20 days until Christmas…

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Congratulations Bindi!

I don’t usually do this, but I felt the need to write a post congratulating Bindi Irwin on her “Dancing With the Stars” victory.  Over the course of the season, I saw nasty comments on social media saying “Bindi is a fake person” and “She gets special treatment because her partner is Derek Hough.”  I could rant and fight on her behalf, but I don’t think that would do any good.  This is all I will say: There was no way of knowing she would be so amazing because she has never had formal training, and from a dancer’s perspective, Bindi had natural ability from the very first episode.  Despite what people may say from their television, computer, or cellphone, people on the DWTS set interacted with Bindi for three months, and no one has one bad thing to say about her; that speaks volumes about her as a person, more than online comments ever could.  I grew up watching Steve Irwin on TV.  He gave me so much joy as a child, and I am so glad to see Bindi carrying on his legacy with grace.

If you didn’t watch DWTS this season, here are links to videos of Derek and Bindi’s dances:

Week 1 | Jive | “Crocodile Rock”

Week 2 | Tango | “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Week 2 | Waltz | “Only a Man”

Week 3 | Quickstep | “Movin’ on Up”

Week 4 | Contemporary | “Every Breath You Take”

Week 5 | Cha-Cha-Cha |  “Hold My Hand”

Week 6 | Rumba | “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”

Week 7 | Argentine Tango | “Cry Little Sister”

Week 7 | Team Freestyle | “Ghostbusters”

Week 8 | Foxtrot | “Grace Kelly”

Week 8 | Jive Dance-Off | “Travelin’ Band”

Week 9 | Viennese Waltz | “Roses And Violets”

Week 9 | Team-Up Dance/Charleston | “All That Jazz” & “Hot Honey Rag”

Week 10 | Salsa | “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile”

Week 10 | Samba Dance-Off | “Lean On”

Week 10 | Jazz Trio | “Resolve”

Week 11 | Quickstep | “Dr. Bones”

Week 11 | Freestyle | “Footprints in the Sand”

Week 11 | Argentine Tango & Cha-Cha-Cha Fusion | “All The Way”

Bindi Irwins Wins “Dancing With the Stars”

* * *     Congratulations Bindi & Derek!  :)     * * *

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Musical Tag

Musical Tag Thumbnail

This is the musical tag.  If you are not interested in musicals, I would suggest that you stop reading and stay tuned for my next blog post.  If you would like to watch the Youtube version, click the following link: https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE

If you are prepared to read, proceed.  :)

Q: What is your favorite stage musical?

A: I have never seen a musical performed by a professional group.  However, I saw a homeschool group from my childhood city perform plays and musicals, and they did an excellent job.  The productions were so well done, they might as well have been professional.  Brava!

Q: What is your favorite musical film?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QegNUOg2ajE

***Note: I added the following question.

Q: What is your favorite animated musical film?

A: “Prince of Egypt”

“Prince of Egypt” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmBDY-fSlIs

Q: What is your favorite musical performance?

A: I think this question refers to live productions, but that does not apply to me.  I am changing the context to my favorite singular performance within a musical film: “Singing in the Rain” performed by Gene Kelly.

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

Q: What is your favorite genre of musicals?

A: Every era has at least one good musical, but most of my favorites come from the Post-Classical Era (Post 50s).

Q: Who is your favorite composer and/or lyricist?

A: Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer, and Phil Collins.

Alan Menken Medley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-WhOZZstiU

Samples of Hans Zimmer’s Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgUhz2F0Mg

“Two Worlds” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGn4zSfw6K4

“On My Way” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDtBnTMpltM

Q: What is your favorite underappreciated musical?

A: All of the musicals I like are well-known and liked therefore I do not have an answer.

Q: What musical are you dying to see?

A: “Wicked”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Aladdin.”  Anything else would be icing on the cake.  :)

“Wicked” 2012 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrpLayS57cY

“Phantom of the Opera” 2013 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNWUdSxxnHM

“Aladdin” 2014 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4sl3sQPzgc&list=PL0kqHD3g0haHgDgqMW-5tX2k6U5rOiMMQ&index=14

Q: What musical did you not like?

A: I apologize to anybody who likes these two musicals.  I did not enjoy “Gigi” or “Cry-Baby.”  The character Gigi annoyed me , and I could not connect to the characters or storyline in “Cry-Baby.”

“Gigi” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH8aVaeHqq4

“Cry-Baby” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB1bLlguZVY

Q: What is the best musical adaptation?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

Q: What is the best original musical?

A: “Once”

“Once” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWJIylZ8VyM

Who is your favorite character from a musical?

A: Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Tradition” Performed by Tevye/Chaim Topol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

Q: What is your favorite song from a musical?

A: “Falling Slowly” and “I See the Light.”

“Falling Slowly” Performed Live by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPjCqb3igw

“I See the Light” Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYbHzzWmKUs

Q: What is your favorite soundtrack?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Into the Woods ” (2014 film), “Prince of Egypt”, and “Tarzan.”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLTxj-kXhg0&list=PL6vJR5WPUWn_-zubC0hU4BuQVqmi_tJbM

“Into the Woods” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KId_A5H-BXw&list=PLuovSEX8xEHes6AJxPnrTcxShMEc9XOBi

“Prince of Egypt” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKN0XF8-3Q&list=PLrjhOUTfRro7ro9MjrNV_W5gwFCMbSxEu

“Tarzan” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4hVVn5OlnI&list=PL7FE43190CD86C300

Q: What musical would you love to see happen?

A: A musical based on the ABC TV show “Once Upon a Time”, a story about Disney characters set in modern times.

“Once Upon a Time” Season One Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QjaxiuIa7A

Q: Why do you like musicals?

A: Musicals were a normal part of my life growing up as a dancer, and they still hold a special place in my heart.

Q: Describe yourself using one lyric from a musical?

A: Defying.  Fear is one of the biggest obstacles in my life, but I constantly find myself taking on challenges and completing what I thought was beyond my limits.

“Defying Gravity” Performed Live by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4ekwTd6Ig

Q: Who is your favorite actress from a musical?

A: Julie Andrews.  QUEEN!!

“The Hills Are Alive” Movie Scene, “Sound of Music”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R462Ro5fqU

“Feed The Birds” Movie Scene, “Mary Poppins”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHrRxQVUFN4

Q: Who is your favorite actor from a musical?

A: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

“I Got Rhythm” Performed by Gene Kelly, “An American in Paris”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvglHa_P9BA

“Funny Face” Performed by Fred Astaire, “Funny Face”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xo1onGh3us

Here is a list of all my favorite musical films:

“Aladdin”

“Aladdin” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWLa6y7Z2TE

“An American in Paris”

“An American in Paris ” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WAMZRCbpU

“Chicago”

“Chicago” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EpaMmF9WVU

“Fiddler on the Roof”

“Funny Face”

“Funny Face” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6VLdVrVQGQ

“Grease”

“Grease” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzWmxjYNfz4

“Hercules”

“Hercules” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ds88gvnEVo

“Into the Woods”

“Into the Woods” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Byk9Is3TjY

“Music Man”

“Music Man” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIPL8Yb25T4

“Phantom of the Opera”

“Phantom of the Opera” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44w6elsJr_I

“Prince of Egypt”

“Singing in the Rain”

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36QiuRc_3I8

“Sound of Music”

“Sound of Music” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY6uw3WpPzY

“Tarzan”

“Tarzan” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfciC33t3M0

“Thoroughly Modern Millie”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCug0golA6c

If you would like to know more details surrounding my answers, watch the Youtube video (https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE).  If you love musicals, I highly recommend you do this tag.  It is so much fun!

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– Lauren Michele <3

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