Michael Flatley returning to 'Lord of the Dance'
"Camp," wrote Susan Sontag, "is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is 'too much.'"
By this definition, Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance" -- the over-the-top, sequins-and-lamé Irish step dance extravaganza -- qualifies as a camp experience rivaled by few.
The popular dance franchise has earned the love of global audiences and camp connoisseurs, as well as the disdain of cultural snobs, since first kicking up its heels in 1996.
Flatley, the 51-year-old creator, producer and director of the show, hasn't performed in it since 1998. On Thursday, the Irish American choreographer announced that he will be returning to "Lord of the Dance" for a limited European tour beginning this fall that will take him through the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Promoters of the show also said that a U.S. tour is "rumored" to be in the works for some time in 2011, but did not offer further details.
In an online video that announced his return to the show, Flatley said that performing it is "like putting on your favorite driving gloves and driving an old Ferrari and shaking it down into overdrive."
"Make no mistake," he continued, "in my opinion, 'Lord of the Dance' is still the greatest dance show in the world."
Some critics have disagreed. The New York Times called it "an overblown rock-style extravaganza" and faulted its "cheesy look." However, former L.A. Times dance critic Lewis Segal wrote in 1997 that "Flatley the dancer is utterly dazzling and whenever he's in motion, you're swept up and away."
Before striking out on his own, Flatley was a performer in "Riverdance" -- the other Irish-inflected mega step dance franchise -- but left the production reportedly due to a financial and artistic dispute.
Flatley's other dance productions include "Celtic Tiger" and "Feet of Flames."
"Lord of the Dance" will begin its European tour on Oct. 30 at the Sheffield Arena in England. It will play at London's O2 Arena on Nov. 3 and at Dublin, Ireland's, O2 Arena on Nov. 13 and 14.
-- David Ng
Photos: Michael Flatley and company performing "Lord of the Dance" in 1997. Credit: Los Angeles Times