Getting The Most Out Of Your Dance Class

As children, parents and carers spend lots of time and money committing to dance lessons, even when they take joy from watching rather than doing. Taking children to dancing lessons requires energy and time, not to mention additional funds for competitions, costumes and extra performances. For a child, it is not until later that they see dance lessons in the same way, as an investment. Only then do they see that time, money and energy go to waste when they do not make the most of their dance lessons.

It is understandable that every dancer experiences a rut in their training, where they may not want to attend classes or feel they are not improving at the rate they should be. Despite this, it is not the dancers that stretch the most, sweat more or practice at home at all hours that necessarily get the most out of their dance classes either. The correct mental attitude is hugely important in dance training, to understand the purpose of dance for yourself and how to experience it in the best possible way.

When dancers become older, their adult freedom equates to a similar responsibility for themselves, be it getting themselves to classes, paying for their own training or beginning to assist with the teaching at the local dance studio. With these aspects comes heightened responsibility, for learning, fuelling and directing your dancing. It goes without saying that dancers must therefore arrive early and prepared for class, being focused and dedicated to the class, taking and applying corrections that are given to the class and spending time on the parts that need the most improvement, even if that means going back to basics.

Making mistakes is a large part of dance training; it will mean you will discover something new about the dancing body, through listening, watching, or error, even if this feels uncomfortable. Don’t forget to enjoy the process and thank your teachers for giving you the tools to better yourself and work hard in each class you take.

Dance-inspired Fit

There are many dance-inspired fitness methods on the market today, from fitness trainers who used to be dancers to those who use dance as a means to remaining happy and healthy, whilst not having a dance background. Aerobics and Zumba classes still have their place, but these are now two of many different options for class participants. Workouts of these kind offer a combination of dance, fitness and wellbeing, and there is truly something to suit everyone, be it at sports centres or the local dance studio.

Today dance-inspired fitness – such as ballet-inspired workouts, dance cardio and toning barre classes – use dancers’ graceful and athletic bodies as a start point, aiming to emulate the idea of dance and being a dancer, rather than aspiring to lose weight or tone up. Strength, lengthening and athleticism can be just two focuses in classes of this kind, aiding existing fitness regimes for both non-dancers and dancers alike. Equally, classes such as HIIT (high intensity interval training), yoga and Zumba can be offered at dance studios that may have previously only offered technique classes.

Barre-style workouts can be used for physical as well as mental fitness benefits. They usually use the body’s own weight to gain lean muscle and a balanced mindset, where the focus is purely on the own body. Many may combine barre, Pilates and dance, and may even incorporate hand weights to aid the body’s training. Mixing up the body’s fitness routine – whether it is from a dance or fitness perspective – continues to challenge the body, and help participants find both energy and strength in the change in fitness activity.

Dance and fitness of course go hand in hand, so trying something different can renew your passion for the reason behind the workout, offering a range of benefits for both body and mind.

Twyla Tharp Dance heading to Italy

Twyla Tharp Dance recently took the premiere of its choreographer’s latest creation to Italy, performed at the end of June when the company visited Florence, Ravenna and Rome. This Italian tour saw the preview of a new work as well as two works performed from Tharp’s repertory. She has been creating dance for 50 years, and during that time she has choreographed over 160 works. These include 129 dances, 12 television specials, six Hollywood films, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines.

Within this creative circuit, Tharp has not only created work for her own company, but for most American dance companies, such as American Ballet Theatre and the Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet and Australian Ballet. In her time as a modern dance choreographer she has earned herself two Emmy Awards, and the 2002 Broadway dance musical Movin’ Out won her a Tony Award. In 2008 she was awarded the Jerome Robbins Prize and the Kennedy Centre Honour, and she has received 19 honorary doctorates.

Tharp formed her company at 23 years old, looking for dancers with high levels of technique and strong personalities, but who are also open-minded and willing to forget that they know anything else about dance. The Italian tour for the company saw eight dancers perform, presenting the preview of Beethoven Opus 130, as well as Country Dances and Brahms Paganini.

The new creation, Beethoven Opus 130, received its official premiere at the Saratoga Performing Arts Centre. The piece was originally kept completely secret, apart from some workshop shots taken during the Catskill Mountain Foundation residency in April. Country Dances premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1976, inspired by American music and traditions. Brahms Paganini, from 1980, is set to Brahms’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini.

Katie Willy – Artistic Fulfilment At Its Best

Katie WillyKatie trained vocationally at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, gaining a distinction in her Trinity Diploma in Dance. She then worked for 3 years for Costa Cruises, and was offered multiple contracts onboard the Fortuna, Atlantica and Mediterranea. Whilst there she also performed as an assistant to the Italian illusionist, Gianni Mattiolo, and was responsible for directing the “Crew Show”, in addition to her work as a production dancer.

On her return to the UK, Katie worked commercially under Momentum Artists management, including performances at the Royal Albert Hall and a music video for rock band GUN. She simultaneously trained with renowned Artistic Jazz director/choreographer Dollie Henry, and was a member of Rambert’s Youth Dance Company, “Quicksilver”.

Katie is currently training in Madrid with Spanish contemporary dance company, CaraBdanza, marking a new direction in her career as a dance artist.

Photo credit: Shambhala Wolfhaart

Where did you train and what was it like?

I started dancing at the age of 5, at the Catherine Bellinger School of Dance in Kent. At the time I was one of about 8 pupils, and it’s wonderful now to go back to the school (I teach and choreograph occasional workshops for the kids) which has grown to over 350 students!

Vocationally I trained at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, on their 3 year dance course. It was a wonderful, if intense experience, particularly as I was taking four A Levels at the time and working a part time job at the weekends!

What was a typical day like?

For my first two years, my mornings were taken up with academic study; in my case, French, Maths, English, Art and Religious Studies. Afternoon classes ran until 6.30pm and would always include a rigorous ballet class, and then a combination of jazz, contemporary (mainly Cunningham and Graham techniques), pointe/pas de deux for the classically focused students, pilates, tap, modern, drama and singing. We were divided into sets according to our specific strengths, so my timetable was predominantly made up of jazz and contemporary classes.

In my third year I was able to focus exclusively on dance, attending additional morning classes such as pilates and stretching. As we were studying for a Diploma, there was an element of contextual studies to complement our physical training. There would also be occasional workshops from industry professionals, from audition technique to talks on Equity.

What is a typical day like now? What are you currently working on?

After graduating, I spent 3 years working various cruise ship contracts; as a young dancer it was a fantastic way to travel, embrace other cultures and grow as an individual. The rehearsal process taught me a lot, as there is a huge amount of pressure to learn three or four shows in a very short space of time, which then have to be costumed and blocked around an already busy theatre schedule – midnight calls were common! Those first weeks were exhausting, but once we settled into a schedule there was ample free time to explore the ports, work on my fitness in the gym and even use the theatre to train with some of the other dancers who were interested. It also allowed me to save financially, which has seriously expanded my options now that I’ve come back to dry land!

Right now I’m in Madrid, training with a contemporary dance company, CaraBdanza. Post-ships I realised that although the lifestyle was fantastic, I wasn’t feeling artistically fulfilled and needed to try something new. I auditioned at The Place for the company with the intention of starting in September – they asked if I could start two weeks later, so I packed a bag and booked a one way ticket! I’m so glad I took that leap; I’m surrounded by some really inspiring dancers and have the opportunity to refine my technique, adapt to new styles and learn the company’s demanding repertoire. All my classes are in Spanish so that’s another challenge, but I have the confidence to really benefit from the experience in a way I couldn’t have at 16 years old.

What do you like most about the company?

Initially I felt fairly daunted by the proportion of classical training here; I don’t have the flat turnout or beautifully arched feet of a ballerina, but I can already say that the daily ballet class has made all the difference to my technique, and provides a fundamental strength and understanding for other dance forms. But the main joy for me is having the freedom to express myself creatively and challenge my body in new ways – I think there is a significant difference between being part of the “entertainment” industry, where there sometimes seems to be an unfair balance between image and skill, to working with choreographers in a company who have a desire to communicate something artistically, and want to see your response as a dancer. I can’t say that one process is necessarily “better”, but for now I’m enjoying taking a break from the commercial environment and exploring my potential as an artist.

What is your favourite part of performing?

Simple as it sounds, I love the feeling of sharing something with an audience. It’s also liberating – you don’t know how people will react to you, but the sense of honesty and exposure is exhilarating. The times I have felt best on stage are when I’ve performed a piece which affects me personally, which feels real – there are no words to adequately describe that sentiment, it’s something other-worldly.

And the worst?

I would have to say, from personal experience, the risk of injury. I was unfortunate enough to sustain plantar fasciitis whilst on a contract once, and had to be flown home from Dubai. The crushing knowledge that you’ve had to stop work, that your body, your main instrument in your job, is damaged, and that this might affect your chances of re-employment, is completely overwhelming. But you can’t let yourself think like this, as nothing hinders recovery like a negative mindset. Once I’d overcome the injury and been offered a new contract, I realised that I’d learnt some tough lessons about respecting my body and learning when to push pain and when to stop for the greater good of my career.

Have you always wanted to be on stage?

I’ve always loved performing, but frankly, until I was offered a place at Tring, had never considered myself good enough to be able to make it professionally. Before that I’d aspired to be a lawyer, mainly because that seemed like something everyone approved of and sounded smart! Dancing has taught me to follow my passions and not society’s perceived ideas of achievement, and although it’s difficult to sustain a career, it’s the best decision I ever made.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I need plenty of time – I hate feeling rushed! I always go backstage with hair and makeup already done, and for me the most important thing is a really good warm up. I’ll always have my iPod with me, with my “happy playlist” to get me in the mood to perform!

What has been your most enjoyable dance experience to date?

That’s really hard, because the experiences I’ve had have been so diverse! I think I’d have to go with the most inspirational experience, which was training with Dollie Henry’s Artistic Jazz Company, BOP, earlier this year. Dollie is a real pioneer of her art form in a country which doesn’t have many jazz companies, and therefore few platforms for jazz dance of this calibre. I’ve never seen someone share so much energy and passion for what they do, and her years of experience here and all over the world were a privilege to learn from. She helped me to push myself to my physical and emotional limits, and taught me to be true to my personal journey as an artist, regardless of what the mainstream may present.

What advice would you offer to an aspiring performer?

Before you decide to pursue dance as a career, be REALLY honest with yourself about three things. Are you prepared to work hard? Can you cope with rejection and turn it into something constructive? Are you prepared to have a job which, much of the time, may involve several part time jobs just to make up the bills or gaps between contracts? If your desire to perform is so strong that these realities don’t bother you, then I’d say you have to give it a go! Everyone’s careers are so different, and it is nerve-wracking when you graduate from years of wonderful training to the reality of an over saturated industry which often pays very little for your level of skill. This said, for me this pales into insignificance when I can make money doing what I love, surrounded by like-minded people, and often have the opportunity to travel or work with people from other cultures. If you love what you do, even when it’s difficult, you will always feel fulfilled.

Trey McIntyre & The #DancerResource Project

Trey McIntyre #DancerResource ProjectThe #DancerResource project, initiated by up and coming choreographer Trey McIntyre, is a collection of essays, letters, and videos from artistic directors, choreographers, and dancers responding to questions from young dancers about how best to prepare themselves to join a dance company, and how to navigate the transition into becoming a professional dancer. Preparing yourself for life as a pro dancer can be daunting task, especially without useful advice about how to instigate the transition and make it successful.

McIntyre has created more than 100 works for dance companies such as New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Pennsylvania Ballet and founded his own company, Trey McIntyre Project, in 2005.

McIntyre has created the #DancerResource project that taps into the lives of professionals in the field in order to share their expertise and knowledge. It provides specific information for aspiring dancers, such as how to approach different companies and how to work as a freelance dancer. As a result of personal experience in providing live resources to uncertain dancers, McIntyre has consequently reached out to directors – such as David Hallberg of American Ballet Theatre – himself in order to ask the questions that students want to know the answers to in order to aid their careers.

The resources are ultimately varied and full of perspective from large and small, contemporary and classical companies alike, a welcome aid to the many dancers training and using the resource. McIntyre has been able to reach out to artists he knows personally, a great coup for the project; all those who have contributed to the #DancerResource project have agreed that there is a definite need for this information, and the project has filled a niche.

There are any number of students looking to forge a professional dance career at any one time, so ultimately the #DancerResource project has provided what schools may not, teaching students how to adapt to the professional world for a successful career, despite providing fantastic technical training. The #DancerResource project can be found on the TMP Facebook page, as well as the series archived on the Trey McIntyre Project website.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Sylvie Guillem – Final Flourish And An Olivier

Sylvie GuillemThe iconic dancer and former prima ballerina – Sylvie Guillem, or Mademoiselle Non – will bow out from her career following a final UK tour of her production Life in Progress. In addition to the previously announced international tour, Sadler’s Wells will present the world renowned Guillem’s final dance programme at the London Coliseum, Edinburgh International Festival and Birmingham Hippodrome. Guillem will also be honoured with an Olivier Award ahead of her retirement, however it is rare that dancers stop dancing completely following announcements of this type.

The newly announced UK dates follow Guillem’s final performances at Sadler’s Wells, from 26–31 May 2015, where she has been an Associate Artist since 2006 and where she announced her retirement, from the stage in November 2014. Life in Progress receives its world premiere in Modena on 31 March 2015, and the final performance is in Tokyo in December 2015. In terms of her Olivier award, Guillem is the recipient of a special award at this year’s Oliviers, celebrating her achievements over the course of her career.

Life in Progress features both existing and new works by choreographers who have influenced her contemporary career. Guillem will perform a pas de deux with Italian dancer Emanuela Montanari from La Scala, choreographed and directed by Russell Maliphant with lighting by Michael Hulls. In the piece, Here & After, Maliphant acknowledges his past works and experiences with Guillem whilst moving on and exploring a vocabulary that shows contrast, with a female duet partnership. Existing works that feature are Mats Ek’s touching and poignant solo, Bye, which was made for Guillem, and William Forsythe’s Duo (performed by two male dancers), which premiered in 1996.

Guillem began training at the Paris Opera Ballet School aged 11, and has since performed all the leading roles of classical repertoire with companies including the Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Kirov, Tokyo Ballet, Australian Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and La Scala, ahead of her contemporary career.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Balletposition.comFormer dancer and ballet teacher Ian Knowles has created a website comparing dancers’ pay and conditions across the world, launched to inform young dancers starting their careers. The site is named and appears to be the first of its type. It is to be used to compare useful data for dancers looking to join ballet companies in the UK, Western and Eastern Europe and the US, to be used as both a database and a resource.

Knowles has created the website with the view to inform newly graduated dancers of things that should be considered as they enter the world of work, based on feedback from dancers who have ‘been there, done that, and got the floor burns’. The current information on the website is valid for the current 2014/15 season and will be updated season to season as required.

There is much information to be found on the balletposition website, for dancers on a ‘need to know’ basis. Knowles consequently aims to inform them about basic rates of pay, and what to expect living as a dancer in various different countries. It is an informative, rather than negative, picture which is painted by the website, as it aims to be positive about joining companies, and inform about contracts and what to expect from them.

Most human actions are carried out based on recommendation, so the balletposition website is in good stead to provide viewpoints which will resonate with new dancers entering the dance industry. Whilst many dancers may have largely differing experiences, it is useful to hear word from someone who has had been in direct contact with the company a dancer may join one day.

The site also includes information on tax rates, pension schemes, holidays and available healthcare, which can often be difficult information to find.

Dante Puleio – From Laban To Limón

Dante PuleioDante Puleio is a Jersey boy. He began dancing shortly after learning how to walk, and at 2 and 3 years old had choreographed and performed for his tirelessly supportive parents; countless dances to everything from Michael Jackson to Donna Summer.

Dante began training when he was 19 years old in London at Trinity Laban. While abroad he was afforded the opportunity to dance with members of the Royal Ballet, then continued his training at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds. In 1999 he graduated with a BFA from University of the Arts in Philadelphia where he danced with Koresh Dance Co., Brian Sander’s of JUNK and Pennsylvania Ballet Theatre.

Upon graduation Dante moved to New York and danced with Carolyn Dorfman, Gabriel Masson and the Limón Dance Company. After several years with Limón, Dante took a hiatus to explore his first love, musical theatre, and performed in Broadway shows such as The Who’s Tommy and The Wizard of Oz, as well as getting involved with commercial and industrial work with Tony Stevens and Jason Robert Brown.

Now having rejoined Limón in 2008, Dante is a principal and soloist. He spends most of the year rehearsing and touring with the company, as well as setting Limón work and holding residencies as a teacher and choreographer with dance schools, universities and companies in North, Central, and South America as well as Europe and Asia.

Have you always wanted to be on stage?

No, I did some theatre in high school but didn’t think it was a professional possibility. When I started college and I took a proper dance class that is when everything changed! So I began training and I waited 3 years to get back on stage, until I felt I was trained enough to perform

Where did you train and what was it like?

I trained at the Laban Centre (London) [as it was then known], Northern School of Contemporary Dance (Leeds) and UArts (Philadelphia). All amazing places with excellent training. It was intense and every day left me totally drained but completely fulfilled. It was an exhilarating time as I knew my life was beginning to unfold before me.

What was a typical day like?

Usually ballet and modern/contemporary every day followed by a jazz class or some sort of academic class, choreography or music. Then later on rehearsals for whatever piece I may have been involved in, and eating lots and lots of food in between. My favourite was a meatball hoagie with chocolate milk right before a Graham class… I have no idea how I did it!

What is a typical day like now?

Ballet or a Limón Class before rehearsal, then a 6 hour rehearsal day, where we run old pieces and fix the minor issues, learn new work or learn old work we don’t already know – or we have new work being set on us that we learn and rehearse. (Still lots of food, but now it’s all organic tofu and rice crackers, ugh! Meatballs are better.)

What is your favourite part of performing?

Finishing a great solo knowing you crushed it! Knowing you did all you could, all the work, all the hours paying off for a performance to be proud of. Knowing you have the audience and winning them over with your movement.

And the worst?

The moment right before you step on stage. Heart in throat, can’t breathe or stand on one leg without wobbling. And tech! Ugh, I hate technical rehearsals in a cold theatre!! That is the worst!

What are rehearsals like?

Rehearsals can be long and tedious, sometimes so specific that you forget that you are dancing, but making such minor adjustments can seem so unnecessary. But, of course, it is necessary. And some days you never stop moving, learning, running, getting notes and fixing things. And then you look at the clock and its time to go. Sometimes there can be a lot of laughter as we try new things to come up against old problems we try and fix, and sometimes we get frustrated with each other, egos and big personalities can clash and we can argue. And some days are not eventful at all, we run work, get notes, run it again and move on to the next piece. We get breaks in between, not everyone is in every piece so sometimes you’re learning a new cover if someone is getting injured or won’t be available for an upcoming performance. Or we are doing our “100’s” on the side, trying to stay warm before the next part of rehearsal, or sometimes we take little naps if we have a while before we’re needed again. We watch old dance videos, we catch up on social media when no one is looking. We debate about codified techniques and intention, we try new things we saw in a concert from the night before… we stay pretty busy.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

No, I think superstitions are bad luck..!

Besides doing a barre, putting on make up, and trying to get out any last minute jitters, there is nothing I have to do before a show that makes me feel prepared. Maybe I always stand on one leg with my eyes closed for 30 seconds to stay centred – that may be my one thing I almost always do.

What advice would you offer to an aspiring performer?

Hmm… do everything. Take every class, go to every show, go to as many intensives as you can. I know untalented dancers that always work because they are everywhere all the time, they are hard workers and I know talented dancers that don’t work because they’re lazy and uninformed. Give yourself as many opportunities as you can, and if there is something else that interests you, do that instead. Dancing is hard and you don’t make a lot of money, so only dance if you have to. For me, once I started, there was no other choice, I couldn’t think of anything else, and still can’t 20 years later.

Having said that, [make sure you] dance now, you can always go back to school later in life for something else, you can easily be a psychiatrist at 60… but being a dancer at 60 is not quite as easy. Dance now and dance everywhere you can, and with as many people as possible. Take teaching opportunities because you discover so much about dancing when you have to tell someone else how to do it.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be 40 next year and even though my body remains injury free I’m applying for MFA programmes, and will choose a school in the coming weeks once I get offers. Because of my career, several schools are offering to pay my ride and allow me to come tuition free with a paid stipend (and in the USA that’s a big deal, because schools can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000 for a 2 year programme!). I built a good resumè over the years and most schools are very excited to have someone with my background at their school, as I am excited to learn more and grow as a person, teacher, artist, dancer and choreographer. I will start school in the fall so at the end of 2 years I’ll have my MFA, and plan to move into the higher education arena as a college professor and choreographer.

Stephen Quildan – Educating Experiences

Stephen QuildanStephen Quildan was born in London and trained at the BRIT School, later Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. He has performed with English National Ballet (Romeo & Juliet) at the Royal Albert Hall and Peter Schaufuss Balletten (Nøddebo Præstegård), Danish tour. Whilst at Rambert he performed in August Bournonville’s ‘Napoli’ and an excerpt from Peter Darrell’s ‘Nutcracker’. Stephen has also worked with contemporary choreographers such as Mark Baldwin (Rite of Spring) and Darren Ellis. Stephen also has performed his own work in Poland and the UK. He soon will be dancing lead roles in Pineapple Poll and Carnival of the Animals for The Chelmsford Ballet Company.

Have you always wanted to be on stage?

I have always wanted to dance, really even before I knew about the stage. When I was younger I always would ‘dance’ during the credits of films. Then my mum sent me to dance classes because I was just a little ‘off’ the music you could say (well, a lot off).

Where did you train and what was it like?

My formal training began at the BRIT School of Performing Arts and Technology. I had an amazing time there, the energy of the building, students and teachers was like nothing else. Afterwards I moved on to Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, which was a very different experience as it was far more specialised, and more honed in on what you learnt. I think I definitely came away as a different dancer after graduating.

What was a typical day like?

At Rambert School, a typical day was a ballet and contemporary class then a supporting study such as pas de deux or improvisation, then student piece rehearsals normally followed. Student choreography was highly encouraged and I think that gave room for me to explore my own ‘voice’, throughout the three years. It also allowed for a lot of stage time, doing a range of work.

What is a typical day like now?

Now the days vary, as I make them. I may go to company class or a project rehearsal. I have to dedicate some time to research, whether its about opportunities or watching dance work, reading or going to an exhibition. I find this really keeps me inspired and motivated. I also have to reply to correspondence and take classes, whether they be ballet, hip hop or yoga I try and feel what my body needs at that time.

What is your favourite part of performing?

The thrill of the challenge. I know for me when the hard work pays off and you feel you have really achieved something on stage that is the greatest feeling.

And the worst?

Nerves. They come in waves but sometimes they can be terrifying, but I have different ways of occupying myself to stay focused.

What advice would you offer to an aspiring performer?

Always stay passionate because that is what will make it easiest. Look after yourself physically and mentally. Mentally can be the toughest part, as to be a performer, especially a dancer, is to always be told you must do more, be better. This has left me feeling inadequate before, however I think connecting back to that passion and joy can make it somewhat easier to keep going.

What’s next for you?

I’m excited to perform with The Chelmsford Ballet Company from 18-21 March in Chelmsford. There is some great choreography by both Chris Marney and Annette Potter, which makes my job so fun. There are some great things approaching in the pipeline but I can’t say just yet.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

I like to take my time to get ready, carefully putting on the costume and make-up really calms me. The whole getting ready process helps. If I run out of time I can feel uncomfortable,

What do you most look forward to about performing?

I look forward to being able to tell a story, whether narrative to abstract, to try and leave an impression on an audience through my on stage experience. Also to having fun with the other dancers around me, as the stage is a unique and special place.

Flatley’s Farewell

Michael FlatleyFollowing a sold out run at the London Palladium in 2014, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games is returning to the West End at the Dominion Theatre from 13 March to begin a farewell tour following the six month run at the Dominion. The show’s 2014 run was intended to mark Flatley’s last West End appearance, but the star couldn’t resist returning for one last time to the capital’s stage.

Flatley will take to the stage for the first 12 days of performances before young star James Keegan takes over the role for the rest of the run of the hit Irish dance spectacular. Flatley will also be returning to the 3 Arena in Dublin and the Odyssey Arena in Belfast at the end of March. His only performances in the multi-date UK tour will be at the Brighton Centre from 2-5 April, where the tour begins, and at the Wembley Arena on 4 July, where the tour ends.

The production, which combines executing and groundbreaking technology, including holographs, dancing robots and world champion acrobats, also includes musical appearances from Girls Aloud’s Nadine Coyle. A new score composed by Gerard Fahy, new costumes and special effects lighting add a breathtaking new dimension to the original masterpiece. “My dancers are the real stars,” says Michael of his troupe of dancers, some of whom have been with the company for 10 years. He is immensely proud of their hard work and dedication, and to bring the show back to the West End in the magnificently refurbished Dominion Theatre is a dream come true.

The global phenomenon that is Lord of the Dance will be bigger than ever in 2015, with Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games on a 200-plus date tour across 15 countries over the next 18 months. In the UK, the show will be performed concurrently in London at the Dominion Theatre from 13 March-5 September and on a UK tour from 2 April-4 July.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.