Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Lifestyle - Tanya MacNaughton

DANCER James Kee­gan is for­ever be­ing thanked by par­ents for meet­ing their chil­dren at the stage door af­ter a per­for­mance of Lord of the Dance: Dan­ger­ous Games.

But for the Manch­ester-born per­former who started Ir­ish dance lessons at age four, it does not feel very long ago that he was in their shoes, meet­ing his idol Michael Flat­ley.

“Both of my par­ents are from Ire­land and I had four older sis­ters who all danced, so they sent me along with my youngest sis­ter Louise,” Kee­gan said. “I didn’t take to it straight away but the first tro­phy popped up, then a big­ger tro­phy and then when I was eight years old, I saw Michael Flat­ley per­form on the Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test and then in Lord of the Dance two years af­ter that.

“All of a sud­den there was this end goal of be­com­ing pro­fes­sional; in­stead of danc­ing as a hobby, there was this dream about one day go­ing on tour.”

Kee­gan first met Flat­ley when he was 10 years old and Lord of the Dance toured Manch­ester, where he re­mem­bers the Ir­ish dance su­per­star “signed my book and gave me a pat on the head”.

Six years later, Kee­gan be­came the youngest prin­ci­pal dancer to take on Flat­ley’s orig­i­nal role as The Lord in Lord of the Dance: Dan­ger­ous Games.

“It was more about pinch­ing my­self that it was re­ally hap­pen- ing than feel­ing any nerves,” Kee­gan said. “It’s such an hon­our.”

Kee­gan, who runs The Kee­gan Academy of Ir­ish Danc­ing, has toured with the troupe since and will celebrate his 29th birth­day in Perth next month dur­ing the Crown Theatre sea­son.

He said Flat­ley, who cre­ated, di­rected and chore­ographed Dan­ger­ous Games, had re­tained the strong val­ues and sig­na­ture danc­ing in a straight line the orig­i­nal Lord of the Dance was fa­mous for.

“The sto­ry­line is also quite sim­i­lar; it still has the love story with good ver­sus evil but now the Dark Lord is try­ing to make the Spirit’s dream a night­mare,” Kee­gan said. “The dream is 20 years on so it’s a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent to the first dream she had. “There’s some danc­ing robots, a lot more colour­ful cos­tumes and lights, dif­fer­ent chore­og­ra­phy and dif­fer­ent tech­nol­ogy. Michael is al­ways will­ing to see what new tech­nol­ogy is out there, so there are def­i­nitely a few sur­prises.”

Com­mu­nity News­pa­per Group has 10 dou­ble passes to give away to Lord of the Dance: Dan­ger­ous Games. En­ter at www.com­mu­ni­tynews.com.au be­fore Au­gust 24.

James Kee­gan (cen­tre) in Lord­oftheDance.

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