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Lord of the DanceJapan

Michael Flatley's
Feet of Flames

2001.3.14. このページはJeannieとVivianの許可を得て、Michael's Cornerからこちらに持ってきました。
Thanks to Jeannie and Vivian for allowing me to put this page on my site.

Jeannie's Adventure

Mother Perfect's report of the
complete Feet Of Flames - US Tour 2001

It will be ages before I come back to earth. Real life awaits but I am either too tired to notice or else I just want to resist.*** This was the best two months of my life. I say that without hesitation. The hundreds of wonderful people I met - old friends, cyber friends and just folks in the audience, enriched my life with their warmth, generosity, great good humor and kindness. I cannot possibly name them all. Some did not give me their name but from those who helped get my luggage into the rack on the airplanes to the taxi drivers and hotel clerks, service people of all kinds I learned that once you go with the Flatley spirit in you, everyone responds with help and smiles.*** As to the Flatheads, well, there is no way I will ever be able to thank them for their generosity, their hugs, their sweet words, and their sharing of how Michael helped them. What stories they tell about how their lives changed because of him.*** I will try to post my impressions of the shows although I am sure there have been reviews given here. I will not go back and read because I want to be uninfluenced and you will see if I saw things the same as others. As for Michael- his words to me and his hugs I will cherish forever. I was very lucky to have been at the three meet & greets in Greenville, Atlanta and Los Angeles. I did not see him in the tunnel in Dallas and while in a way I am sorry I doubt that I could have done so without sobbing and he didn't need that. This was a very difficult tour for him and the fact that he danced so superbly in spite of his pain, both physical and spiritual, is a mark of his great courage. He needs our good energy and our understanding as he recovers from all that has happened and finds his way back to his dream.

The freeways in California are not nearly as bad as the beltway around Washington, DC and New York City is the place to find the most drivers who cut in front of you if you leave an inch to spare. Food? Well, we ate on the run and sometimes it was nothing until you were feeling faint and had to grab crackers. But, the best night was in Dallas at a French restaurant called the Paris Bistrot. Divine food, a French waiter and the atmosphere of Paris. The bill? Don't ask but it was worth every penny! So would I do this again? You betcha! Any aggravation was worth it to see that Golden Unicorn dance.

It took 13 flights on 7 different airlines, 9 rental cars from 5 different rental companies, 18 hotels/motels and five freebie beds from friends, plus innumerable taxi and shuttles to make it to the 20 cities for the tour. I dragged the siutcases through the airports and up a lot of stairs and wished I was one of those who didn't need everything but the kitchen sink when I travel but it was HOT and I wanted plenty of clothes. Atlanta and Houston were the worst, Miami and Tampa a close second for heat and humidity. The altitude in Denver made breathing tough. California was having pleasent weather- thank you, very much and even New York City wasn't too bad. Chicago, Washington, DC and Philadelphia could have been better but hey, we didn't have rain or storms on show nights anywhere except a slight Irish mist in Greenville so no complaints. I just don't like the hot weather. The Dublin girls loved it and were at the pool while I choose to sit on the air conditioners. I loved the Dumont Plaza in NYC where they ran oiut and got you a cab and from the 36th floor the city didn't look too shabby but still Atlanta and Dallas have the best architecture. My favorite, however was Portland. Oh the Rose Gardens and the Japanese Gardens and the rivers- YES! Don't see too much when the tour moves from city to city. Sight seeing at a minimum with gatherings to attend and venues to get to early. I drove lots of miles and saw the Calif. desert where I visited an old friend and also had a lovely visit in Laguna with my oldest friend- old in friendship years, that is. We met when I was three and are like sisters. Saw a former collegue in Altanta and a college friend in Ohio so there was plenty to do during the few longer breaks.

I'm going to start this story and keep going until you all yell, STOP!! I kept a journal and will give you some of my notes since the different shows tend to blend in my memory. I also did a diary for Michael and told him a lot about his Flathead Family and described the fun we were having. I hope he gets a moment to read it because he needs to know how great this tour was for those of us lucky enough to see FOF 2001. It was a very rough tour for him. If the heat bothered me you can imagine what it was behind those lights an inside the fire of the pyros. The heat from those would reach the 10th row. There were problems with curtains and hydraulics and costumes and in Detroit the stage never arrived. It must have been so hard for him since he wants everything to be perfect. And as far as I could tell there was perfection in the most important way- the dancing. Those kids were fabulous. To see Bernadette (Happy Birthday, sweet girl) with the grace of her arms and the brilliance of her smile just blew me away. Such energy and such talent. Steve Brunning, surely the most menacing Bad Guy ever, was getting his own standing Os. And since I love the role of Cleopatra I fantasized it was me dancing that . Sorry, Lee Ann- you're great but I was better!!!!! The whole troupe was on fire every night and I admit that I watched Damien a lot. So I have favorites and he has been the one I have adored since 1997. Oh, that Riverdance Guy was in this, too. He's not bad either!

First of all for those 2 or 3 who might not know, I decided to go to all the shows. It became a dream to do it and I told myself it didn't matter how hard it was I wouldn't give up. As it turned out my energy level was so high that I found I was feeling better than ever and who needs sleep? So in Greenville when Michael did stop after the show I wanted to tell him what I was going to do. I wanted his approval and was a wee bit hesitant as I told him because I sure didn't want him to think I was a crazy fan- or worse yet a stalker since he has had so much trouble with somebody who was reported to be following him. Well, I had no reason to be concerned. I just spoke my piece and said it was my dream and I was following it and he gave me the biggest grin and said, "BRILLIANT" and gave me a huge hug and a few kisses to go with it. So with the Master's approval I didn't care what anyone else thought.*** Greenville is a charming city, tree lined streets, outdoor cafe's and Southern hospitality. Our hostess, {{{JUDY SYKES}}} arranged a gathering in Connolley's Irish Pub. There were 17 of us attending this preview show and we arrived a day early to make sure we didn't miss a thing. On the first night we walked to see the venue. {{{GHILLIE}}} said it was a couple of blocks. Don't ever believe her!! It was up hill and those were the longest blocks in the Universe! But, our reward was big. We peered into the BiLO Center to see what it looked like and there to our wondering eyes appeared a slight opening in a door and a view of the screen beside the stage. Oh, my LOTD, there were silver heels tapping. Suddenly, the long walk seemed so unimportant and I could feel that twitter in my tummy that I get every time I know that Michael is near. The anticipation for the show never leaves no matter how many I see.

Here are my notes from the Greenville show: "The show was better than ever. (I had seen Erfurt, Mannheim and Belfast)There was more power in Michael's dancing. His face looked a bit tentative as he began and he waited to hear the audience react. They loved it from the moment the curtain parted and he beamed as the cheers and applause resounded in the arena." I had a front row seat and so getting to the stage at the end was easy. No one stopped us- the only time that happened on the tour. It was a group of familiar faces including, {{{MARTY}}}, {{{LIBBY}}}, {{{CHAR}}}, {{{GHILLIE}}}, {{{KAREN}}}, {{{KATHY}}} and {{{ANKA}}} who he had last seen at Belfast. He looked down and said, "Hi Guys!" and looked so pleased. It was one of the best moments of the whole tour. {{{SUE}}}, {{{JUDY}}} and {{{KIM}}} rounded out the group. We all were on top of the world that night and a little drizzle didn't stop us from waiting to see if he would stop. And when he did he was so like the good old days of meet and greets. As I write now I so wish that could have continued- not only for his fans but more for him. He hated to just drive by but security made it necessary.

MIAMI: The formal opening night of Feet of Flames, The Victory Tour. Now the party can really begin. {{{ANNIE}}} and {{{TRINA}}} and {{{SHANAH}}} arrived from Dublin. {{{ZIGGY}}}came and {{{JOE JOE}}}. {{{JUDY G}}} and {{{MITZI}}}. And {{{SHEILA}}} who I hadn't seen since the Dublin shows in '98. Oh, the gang was all together and what a reunion. So many hugs and laughs and I knew that this would be the best adventure of my life. I can't name everyone but must say that meeting the "FEET OF CEMENT", {{{MICK JETT}}} and {{{LINDA}}} was a special treat. That night as we gathered in the hotel room, when Mick walked in with real cheesecake and real Guinness!

I knew that nothing would ever make me regret this journey- even if the credit card did max out! **I wrote the review of the show that I thought it deserved, "Miami has recorded a miracle. The indescribable artistry of Michael Flatley cannot be written about. It has to be witnessed. You will think your eyes have deceived you and look for hidden mirrors or some device that makes it look like he is making those moves. But, they are real. And no one else, in spite of the brilliance of the cast, can come anywhere close to the magic of those feet. It is not only the fastest taps that astound but the slow walk across the stage that rivets your eyes on Flatley. No performer in history ever energized an audience like this and it is commonplace to hear such comments as,"This is the greatest show I have ever seen. Michael Flatley is amazing , an 8th wonder of the world".

TAMPA-from my journal:Heatand humidity havemedrinking ice water by the gallon. There are eight of us staying at the Best Western. Can't turn down free breakfast, free local calls and free shuttle service. The assembled group, {{{MERRYBETH}}}, {{{LIBBY}}},(((LISA))),{{{ANNIE}}},{{{TRINA}}}, {{{SHANAH}}}, {{{ANKA}}} and yours truly found the Ice Palace and I was lucky to have a lovely woman named {{{COLLETTE}}}sitting next to me. She had seen Eire Apparent and knew that Michael was not the man that the press keeps trying to create out of their insistence that he is one big arrogant ego. The reviews show that they will never "get it" and want to remain oblivious of the meaning of the story line. As {{{SHANAH}}}says, "There is no point in being ignorant if you don't show it!"*I could see that Michael was in some pain but as always he was giving his all. The Tampa audience was enthusiastic and I hope the energy reached him. He surely needed it. We knew he had to fly to LA for the Larry King interview and didn't expect him to stop. We met the pilots of his hired plane who seemed like regular guys. Everyone but those officious venue security guards are friendly.***We found an open bar and stopped for a drink. I ordered a glass of ice- and some tonic water. No Guinness. How inconvenient! We kept telling each other we should get some sleep but we just enjoy our own company so much that we don't want to say good night."

ATLANTA: Best Western had better give us a free stay somewhere. We have been in three so far and the Atlanta one was a real bargain. Microwave ovens and refrigerators in the room and a big buffet breakfast for free. It was on Peachtree Street and we could walk to the nearby mall. Beautiful city but I still wished that Mother Nature would turn off the humidity. Some of us went to Benihana's for dinner where the Japanese chefs cook in front of you with flourishes. Our chef was named Pedro. Odd Japanese name, I thought.LOL!! I found a lovely rhinestone swan to pin on my FOF cap. The infamous cap which was getting heavier with pins had certainly done it's job. I would stand up before the show so I could be seen and so many Flatheads would come up to say, "Hello". I wish I could remember all the names but over the course of so many meetings it just became impossible. ***On show day we went to get flowers for Michael. {{{ANNIE}}} directed the florist so we would have flame colored flowers- scented, of course- and flame colored ribbons. Meanwhile we educated the salesperson with tales of Michael and FOF. We taught everyone we met on the journey, taxi drivers, waiters, and anyone we encountered anywhere.***{{{JANICE ENLOW}}}had arranged a great gathering before the show and it was packed with Flatheads. Including 7 year old {{{TAKODA}}} who did his hardshoe routine for Michael and us in Greenville and I thought he was the image of Michael at that age. I wanted to pop him into my suitcase but there just wasn't room.

***In spite of the LA trip Michael seemed less tired and outdid himself again. We were waiting with no expectation that he would stop. The news of all the security problems made us aware that meet and greets would be rare but we got lucky.He came out, pen in hand just like the days of yore and asked whether we liked the show. We all said "NO". Just kidding. We all told him how we really felt and some who had never met him before were in heaven. Well, even those who had been at meet and greets before get all warm and tingly. Michael's yellow shirt was a winner. He always looks great but that shirt was special. He signed and hugged and it was so nice to feel the old days were not over. But, we knew that he was under tight security and we sure didn't want anything to happen to him so we let him know that if he couldn't stop it was okay. I heard he just hated it when he couldn't stop and saw us there so we made sure he understood that we understood and that we are there to show support and told him to just wave as he went by.*** I got and gave my hugs that night. It was such a treat to know he recognized me. Fat, old ladies in silly hats stand out in the crowd and I just waited until he saw me. I didn't want to ask for anything, I have been given so much. But, he saw me and held out his arms so what would you do? Run away? I don't think so.

CHICAGO: This was a really big gathering of the clan. I was frustrated that there wasn't time to spend more than a minute or two with some of my dearest Flat Friends. {{{LIBBY}}}, {{{BELINDA}}}, {{{JULIET}}} and I went to Chief O'Neill's Pub and had a terrific dinner. I was so glad to see {{{BEA SPUCK}}} from Germany who I had met last year in Mannheim. And {{{MONIKA}}} from beautiful Salzburg in Austria. {{{MORGANNA}}} who I hadn't seen since Hyde Park, {{{GENTLEMAN JOE HORN}}} who I first met in Cleveland in '97 who told me, "The world is not round- it's Flatley." {{{LIBBY}}} made a wonderful pin for my hat with that phrase. {{{LINDA K}}} most kindly introduced me to Michael's sister, {{{TOMA}}} and her husband {{{STEVE}}}. That was VERY special. It seems that I had posted on the OVB that I was making all the shows and Steve asked Linda to get us together. Such a nice man. And he shared that people who meet him have picked up on those awful news stories and ask him what it's like to have such an arrogant guy in the family. Steve just tells them that Michael is the nicest guy in the world. We agreed on that!!***I thought everyone danced with special brilliance tonite. For me, every show gets better and better.

DETROIT: Time to pause and take special notice of one very special lady. {{{SUE ROY}}} is the greatest. Her enthusiasm during a show is rivaled by no-one. What a jack-in-the box she is jumping up to cheer and applaud. I thought she would be worn out after the first number but she only gets more so! Her generosity to me was unbelievable. Not only the PBS ticket for the show and meet and greet but I stayed at her house in her "Michael Room" and in Denver with her dear nephew, also a Michael. Spoiled me rotten. Now, I have grown to expect everyone to treat me the same! Well, reality will soon take over. Don't worry. *LOL* The Detroit show was especially hard on the dancers since for some reason the truck with the special stage did not arrive and so they had to make do. And what troopers they are. So professional that if you hadn't known there was a problem you wouldn't have known there was a problem. But the best part of the night was the special PBS meet and greet.

DETROIT: The meet and greet. Someone didn't tell security that those people had paid $500.00 and had been promised some time with Michael. One couple had bid $2000 for the front row center seats. As I watched the guards actually pulling people away as soon as they got an autograph and a photo, my old assertiveness training went into high gear. But, once again the recognition factor paid off or maybe my horns were showing. At any rate when it was my turn, Michael gave me that look of recognition and the welcoming hug and the guards backed off. I had a special purpose for that evening. For those who don't already know, dear {{{SANDRA}}} asked me to help her by giving Michael a certificate that named a star for him- a real star in the heavens that is now called Michael Ryan Flatley. I gave him the package with the certificate and a lovely letter from {{{SANDRA}}} and since time was very short I said only a few sentences to explain that I wanted his autograph for her on the program and asked him to make it special by signing her name. He responded with a lovely message to her. How quickly he listened and heard and knew just what was needed. Mission accomplished! Thank you, once more, Michael, for your sensitivity and generosity.

CLEVELAND: {{{SUE}}} met me at the Holiday Inn. There was a huge Unitarian-Universalist Convention there and they wouldn't register anyone till 3PM. At the rate it was going we would still be there. Finally, I said out loud that I was a Unitarian and in a hurry so a nice lady let us in the line. We registered and changed for the show and when we left there was still a long line waiting. Talk about inefficiency!***It was a big night for the town. InSync was in one outdoor arena, a baseball game in another, something in the convention center and FOF in the Gund Arena. Traffic was horrendous and the shuttle driver said he would get us as close as he could. It went well and we got to the arena for the usual delivery of flowers- dozens of roses-(Sue got a bargain, believe me.) and then it was off to Flannery's Irish Pub. {{{KATHERINE K}}}hosted and there were some old friends I was happy to see. {{{CHRISTINE R.}}}and {{{MIKE & JUDY HOGAN}}}(WHERE WERE YOU, JAKE, BABY??- I missed you) The Little Chef, {{{JUSTIN}}}came with his proud parents, {{{AILEEN & ELKIN}}}, {{{ELAINE and her husband}}}Well, it was a big bunch of folks. It was memories of '97 for me. It was in the same place that I went to my first gathering that started me down the road of Flathead-dom in a big way.*** I had saved some roses in hopes that the security guard would let me give them to Michael at the end. I was surprised when I asked and he said okay. Because of the huge pyros it was considered risky and I don't think that security man was supposed to say, "yes" but I sure didn't argue with him.I handed them to Michael and he seemed delighted. He shouted down to me, "I love you baby,darlin" and I called back, "I love you darlin baby". It just came out of my mouth without any thought. A member of the crew got me out fast and the pyros went boom and I thought I might go boom, too. What a memory to add to the special Michael Moments.

COLUMBUS: The venue was on the Ohio State campus. Very nice place and polite security. There are some guards who don't have to act like storm troopers. {{{LIBBY}}} and I took the flowers in and asked that they be taken backstage to Michael. A girl jumped up and said "I'll take them!!"and trotted down the hall as fast as she could. I think we made her day.*** In the arena I was happy to see{{{MARSHA}}} and {{{TC}}}.I must look like I know something about the show because several people came up to ask me questions. It gives me a chance to make sure they have the facts. And noone asked any offensive personal questions. One gal did say out of her husband's hearing, "ISN'T HE GORGEOUS?" Do you think I disagreed?** It is hard to remember details about each performance. I did note that Michael seemed to be driving himself on this night and looked especially tired at the end.** Later we waited for the troup to leave and learned that Michael and some of the guys were watching the La Hoya fight. When it ended the fellas came out and were waiting for taxis- they had missed the bus- so they hung with us talking and giving autographs. I heard someone ask, "What is it like to dance with Michael?". I guess the one she asked was pretty new. The look on his face was something to see. He got this kind of unearthly look like he was in a trance. "Oh," he said. "He has a PRESENSE like no one else. He's GREAT". Someone spotted a cab down the street and started a race to see who got it. What energy they have. And what talent.

PHILADELPHIA: The first and only city to get two shows. We stayed at another Holiday Inn. It was near the three huge sports arenas outside the main part of town. Kind of isolated from everything. We were told they plan to build two more. Can't imagine why they would need five but whatever.** Lots of familiar and loved Flatheads here in Philly.{{{JUDY G}}}, {{{LINDA UK}}}}, {{{{MITZI}}}},{{{MERRYBETH}}}, {{{TERRY}}},, {{{CAERI}}}, {{{JERRI}}}, {{{SHEILA}}}, {{{AILEEN}}} and {{{LIBBY}}} and I who had taken two days to drive in from Columbus.*** As you have heard the first Philly show had one of the most frightening moments when near the end of the show the upper tier of the raised stage started to tip. I watched those dancers and they never got out of step. Not a sign that they wouldn't have kept on dancing. Michael realized something was wrong when the audience stopped cheering. It was so quiet for a few seconds and then everyone started pointing and he turned around and said "STOP". They stood still but how they didn't slide to one side is a miracle. Gradually they got the stage to right itself but those kids became the night's heros and Michael and the audience acknowledged them with shouts and applause. I heard that the troup has to take turns going up there and noone really likes it. After this night I bet they dreaded when it was their turn.***Then there was one of the funniest and unique moments in this show. The red daisy- or whatever those big daisy-like flowers are. Michael always gives Bernadette a red rose when he comes out to her before Warlords. But, tonite he gave her this big red daisy. She looked so surprised as if she was thinking, "What is this". Then he was so busy talking to her on the side he almost missed his cue and really had to run to get to his place.No show is ever like any other.

PHILADELPHIA:SHOW #2. This was the worst audience. I wrote in my journal " Well, we tried. But there were a lot of dead people in the audience tonight. The ones that sit there with their arms folded, a vacant stare and never move from beginning to end. We demonstrated clapping, shouting, cheering and standing Os but they are in a trance and never notice. Michael and the troup were doing their best but the corpses were in rigor mortis!" And the security guards were so nasty and stupid. They even stopped Michael's PA, Sharon, and gave her a hard time. But, the show was still great. I wanted to have a rule that noone who didn't appreciate it and applaud could be seated in the first ten rows. Only seems fair to me.***One group went into the city to see the Liberty Bell and all the great historical sites. I had been there recently so I went with the group who wanted to find a florist. We had been unable to get flowers the first night so wanted to make sure we got them for the second show. It was the first time I had ever had a floral designer come out to consult on the arrangement. We chose a tropical bouquet which would include exotic blossoms like Birds of Paradise. Then they took us in the back room to select roses. Every possible color to choose from. This kind of stuff gives me a kick. And I know Michael loves getting the flowers and reads the cards. I got that on very good authority- his bro-in-law.

Now let's see. Where was I? Oh, yes. WASHINGTON,DC: Who would have thought that a Red Roof Inn would have an authentic Irish Pub with a waitress just arrived from Ireland.And there was Guinness, Irish smoked salmon and potato-leek soup. Now that's what I call food!*** Michael seemed to be having lots of fun on stage and so did the crowd. We ended up sharing photos and tales of other shows with the group seated around us.*** But, the most special memory of Wahington will always be little {{{REBECCA}}}. Her parents had brought her to see Michael from the small town they lived in so this was an adventure for the whole family. She had been born with cerebral palsy and the doctors had told her family that she would never be able to walk or talk. But, Rebecca discovered Michael and she decided to ignore the medical opinions and listen to what Michael said. And she was walking! And she did talk, too. As she watched the show she beamed with delight when he was on the stage and said his name. But, when he wasn't there she frowned and said, "Where's Michael?". I heard about the meet and greet from her parents and they were really blown away by the way he reached out and held this little girl. He got down on his knees and enfolded her in his arms and spoke to her. Her Mother tried to explain to him that he was the reason she was walking but he discounted his part. Of everything that happened during this tour I am sure that meeting this angel child was one of the brightest moments for Michael. I saw photos taken of the event and the look on both their faces was so beautiful it would have made you cry.*** I heard many stories on this journey from those whose lives were changed, whose health improved, who were living their dreams. I wrote about those stories in the diary I gave to Michael. I know he wants us to follow our dreams but he resists taking any credit for how we live our lives. So much for his big ego!!

NEW YORK CITYand MADISON SQUARE GARDEN: This was the really big one. The troupe and Michael saw this as the pinnacle for the show and they were hot! So was I but that was the summer heat on the city street. I confess that I don't like NYC. Maybe, if I was rich enough to see all the Broadway shows and the like but as a place to visit? Nope. However, having said that I admit that life on the 36th floor of the Dumont Plaza Suites was not too shabby. Thanks to {{{MERRYBETH}}}, who has this way with hotel reservation clerks, had managed to get five of us in this suite and by the time we divided the cost it was not much. Of course when we all opened suitcases to get out our finery it began to look more like a bunch of high school kids on a vacation. But, we cleaned it all up before we left like good Flatheads.*** I know I should say I was awed to be in MSG but honestly it looked like any big arena. Except on this night instead of popcorn and cotton candy they were selling champagne with strawberries.And there were so many to greet that night. {{{FABIENNE}}}and {{{ANNIE}}}from Belgium,{{{SABRENA}}} from Italy,{{{LINDA UK}}},and from Taiwan,{{{JENNIFER}}} and her Mom. The international Flatheads, dressed for the occasion and ready to celebrate with the troupe.Everyone was on fire that night. You could feel the excitement in the air and it was both on and off the stage.Later we learned that there was a lot of press backstage and a big party. We had a little party of our own with pizza and Pepsi back at the hotel.So who needs Chateau Latour?

RUTHERFORD,NJ: There were nine of us who came to the Meadowlands. {{{MARY LOU}}} had only intended to go to NYC but when she logged into Ticketmaster there was front row seat for NJ so she drove in from CT. {{{DEBORAH}}} couldn't stand not seeing another show after Philly so brought a friend and came from Lancaster, PA. {{{SHEILA}}} and {{{CAERI}}} came in with armloads of flowers. {{{KAREN]]], {{{KATHY}}}, {{{LINDA}}}and I shared a hotel room and we met {{{{YOLANTA}}}from Montreal there. We all heard the loud crash of metal just before the curtain went up and I thought, "Oh, no, what a time for the scenery to fall over". There was an announcement of a delay for technical reasons and we waited about half an hour and then heard the same announcement. The stage curtain tended to be short in places and came slightly apart in the center. I saw Michael on one knee and at the time thought that I had been priviledged to see his usual prayer before the show. I was up on the side and I saw Kathy motioning to me to come down. She told me that someone had fallen and an ambulance was coming. Karen had been told she couldn't leave the arena and why. We decided to tell only our small group and not alarm the audience. Of course I realized that a fall from that height would have be serious but when in another 15 minutes the curtains parted and the show began I thought things must be okay. Until I saw Michael's face. I never want to see that look again. He was unsmiling and in deep pain throughout the show and it seemed as if everyone was dancing on automatic pilot. They danced the whole show with determination and I doubt that anyone who was there for the first time saw anything out of the ordinary. During Celtic Fire, Michael called out a dedication to Kevin Finn and said "God Bless You" but reports that it was a two hour delay and he addressed the audience with the report of what had happened are totally false.Later we learned that Kevin had died and that Michael and some crew were on the stage when he fell.

We gathered together in the arena lobby, not knowing what to do. There was that feeling of helplessness that we knew there was nothing we could do but still wanting to fix it somehow. That this horror could happen at the place where we knew such joy seemed incongruous. We just clung to each other for support and went back to the hotel. Sitting and having a drink and a bite to eat seemed bizarre but what else was there we could do? Just try to get on with the normal events of our lives. The next morning Kathy drove me to Newark airport and I rented a car and drove home. I needed that time to adjust myself to leaving the tour with such mixed feelings. As I write this I realize that I still have work to do to come to terms with that night. I know that Michael and the crew that were there on the stage will spend a lifetime trying to get past it.

The week between east and west went quickly. Instead of three suitcases I got down to two. Getting smart in my old age!** I looked forward to this part of the trip because in addition to seeing the show I would be seeing my partner from Ireland, {{{KATHLEEN- The Doggerel Queen}}} We had spent the month between the Dublin shows and Hyde Park in a cottage in Tipperary- an adventure that was like a fairytale. The nights in the pub, listening to the singing and the laughter were some of the best times I ever had. So it was off to-- PORTLAND: I picked up a car at the airport and drove to Kathy's house. Then she guided me through Portland to my motel which was right across the street from the venue and on a river. What a view! I was enchanted with Portland and after dropping the luggage we went to see the famous Rose Gardens. You stand there in a sea of roses and look over the Portland skyline and beyond to snow covered Mt. Hood. I was sold. Portland and I suited each other. The next day we went higher up the hill and saw the Japanese Gardens. So peaceful and the place to sit in reverie and meditate. I wished that Michael could get away from all the hassle of his life and spend time there. I knew he needed to rest and get in touch with his spirit. But, I'm sure he was already checking the venue and getting ready for the night's work.***{{{MICHELE}}} arranged a lovely gathering at the Cucina Cucina- a restaurant on the venue grounds. Thanks to a dear friend, I had a front row center seat that night.I was apprehensive about how Michael would look but rewarded with his buoyant spirit. He was talking a lot to the audience and I struggled to understand what he was saying. Playing with us and obviously wanting us to play to. The pyros failed after Firedance and the trap door stuck after the solo. These set problems just add interest to the show- at least for me. Sure keeps the crew busy.

SEATTLE: Headed north and passed by Seattle to stay in Mukilteo about 25 miles north. A pretty town right on the water. I wish I had allowed more time to see the Northwest away from the highways since the expressways are no fun. Many traffic tie ups and you can't see a lot of scenery while watching those pesky tailgaters and cutter-inners. The motel Silver Cloud was lovely. Complete with kitchen, fireplace and living room. But, no time to do more than a quick walk to see the old lighthouse and get some excellent clam chowder at a take-out fish place and then it was time to get back to Seattle for the show. The Key Arena is on the World's Fair site near the Space Needle. Most attractive grounds with fountains. It was a beautiful summer night. I didn't miss the humidity one bit! The show went off without a hitch It was the first time on the tour that nothing went wrong with the pyros, the hydraulics, the trap door, the curtain, the elevators (Mairead and Cora had to dash back and down the stairs during one performance when the lift wouldn't budge)or the lighting. I think the performance that night was the best I saw. And the audience went wild- pounding the floor, shrieking, screaming and going into ectasies with every move Michael made. And you know that that kind of audience just inspires him to go all out.***There was a special lady there tonight. I spotted her before the show in a long, dark green taffeta gown, holding a huge bouquet of flowers. Her name is {{{PAMELA}}} and she came over to say hello to me. She had another story of how Michael had changed her life and this was the night she was to see him live for the first time. Afterwards we waited for the troupe buses and his car and some of the troupe came out and tossed a football around. Pamela made bubbles. Yes, she brought a giant bubble maker and these huge 3 to 4 foot bubbles went sailing into the trees and across the street. Cars stopped and asked what was going on. We said, "Michael Flatley". Somehow they couldn't connect bubbles, football and Michael. I don't know why some people just don't get it! I wish you could have been there to see this lovely girl in her long gown blowing bubbles. And the children blowing regular ones. It was surely a magical night. We didn't wait for his car since we had the 25 mile drive back. But,I wish he could have been there to see the childlike wonder he so believes in at work on the streets of Seattle.

SACRAMENTO: Time for another introduction to a most talented and special friend. You old timers from the first VB may remember the contest that asked, "Describe why you like LOTD in 25 words or less and win an autographed program from FOF-Hyde Park." Well, {{{MELINDA}}} won that contest and I have been emailing her since then. So, when I said I was going to all the shows she invited me to stay with her. What a great time we had. She had the brilliant idea to give Michael a bottle of Chateau Latour for his Birthday. So some of us chipped in and she got the bottle. And where do you suppose she kept it for safe keeping? Where else but on a big cushiony towel in the bathtub! We dashed out to find flowers and pastrami sandwiches. That sounds funny doesn't it? Well, it just happened that the deli with the best sandwiches was right next to the florist so thats how- oh, well, anyway-- we found wonderful roses that were yellow on the bottom and had red tops so they looked like flames. We asked that they be delivered backstage at the Arco Arena but the girl said they couldn't do that. They wouldn't know where to go. Yeah, real hard to ask someone I guess. Anyway, we took them ourselves and gave them to the security office and I'm sure they knew where to go.** {{{DENISE}}} had a gathering for us at the Rusty Duck. I got to see the beautiful plaque she had engraved for Michael making him a Knight. SIR Michael Flatley from now on.** It was hot in the arena and I saw that Michael looked tired and stressed even at the beginning of the show. His feet were flying but his face was showing the stress. By great good fortune we were able to go backstage to present the wine. Melinda told him that it would retain it's quality for several years. Michael said he doubted that it would last until he got to the plane! He told me it had been unusually hot on the stage and he was very tired. But, still so giving and warm with the crowd most of whom were part of some group we didn't know. When Michael sees his own Flathead bunch he gives that look of recognition and the arms come out for the hugs. {{{TONDA}}} showed him the hard copy of the beautiful Birthday Book she had created on the Celtic Cafe. Sharon promised to show it to him on the website. I was just the photographer that night so didn't have anything to give him but no matter. I got my hugs and kisses anyway!!!

SAN JOSE: I drove from Sacramento to San Jose which got me there kinda late since I was reluctant to leave {{{MELINDA}} although we would see each other in L.A.** I checked in to yet another Best Western and made my way downtown to the venue to buy a ticket for the show. It works. Waiting to get a better seat the day of the show is better than going to old Ticketmonster who for some time had seats in the rear of the hall. In San Jose I had one of my favorite places for seeing the feet-way on the side nearest the stage. Granted you miss the other side of the stage but when you have seen the show from the center then it is time to just watch those flying feet.*** It was too late to make the gathering but during the interval {{{FRANCES}}} and {{{{CHAR}}} and several of the German contingent came over. How nice of them to come for Michael's Birthday as we had done last year when he was in Germany. His German audiences are so loyal and enthusiastic and the individuals I have met are among my dearest friends. This night I met {{{CLEO}}} who is Michael's Birthday Twin- born on the exact same day and year. She was dressed in leather pants and red sequined jacket with silver heels on her shoes. What a delightful woman and beautiful, too.*** We were unable to see Michael which was a disappointment because so many had Birthday gifts for him. But, we know that Sharon makes sure he gets all the presents, cards and letters so at least they would reach him. She gave him a surprise Birthday Party with the troupe so at least he got a celebration. The few days before the LA show where he could have had a few days rest I heard were taken up with filming on a movie location site. At least so the trade papers that announce such things said.*** I was alone that night and tried my best to sleep since I was flying into LA the next morning and driving to Yucca Valley in the desert.

LOS ANGELES: There were several days free before the show in LA and several afterwards. Luckily two of my oldest and dearest friends live in CA so first I headed for the desert. As you get past the endless LA sprawl you see the hundreds of white windmills turning in the wind that sweeps across the hills. Hang on to the steering wheel because you can feel the car trying to take off. But, soon the flora of the desert appears- the strange and ancient Joshua trees and other cacti and brush. I always feel like I have landed on another planet. The heat is compensated for by cool nights and a soft breeze and that dry heat everyone says makes the high temperatures liveable.*** I spent the days reminiscing with my friend of 50 years and watching the roadrunners, quail and bunny rabbits that scampered about the yard. Time to re-group before heading back to LA and the show.*** I stayed at the Stillwell Hotel not far from the Staples Center. Since I had the car I drove {{{MELINDA}}} and {{{JEANNINE}}} to the Holiday Inn for the gathering and let the valet parking keep the car for the night.What a turnout in LA. Among thenew friends I made were {{{YOSHIKO}}} and her husband all the way from Japan just for the show. She has a Japanese website for Michael. And {{{WES}}} who all the girls (ladies, women- whatever!) sgreed was soooo cute. And I found him infectious with his determination to follow his dreams. Of course our illustrious Prime Minister and keeper of this AVB, {{{{{{ZAMMI}}}}}} was there and {{{LEE ANN}}}, {{{JUDY G}}}},{{{AUDREY}}} and forgive me so many others I just can't remember all.*** A lovely surprise when I was tapped on the shoulder and there was Michael's sister and her husband- {{{THOMASINA}}} and {{{STEVE}}}.*** I had a ticket in one of the rows back from the stage and was expecting to enjoy the show with binoculars. {{{MELINDA}}} said, "Let me see your ticket" and when she returned it to me I was in the third row. She wouldn't tell me how she did that trick but once again I was given an angel's gift.

They filmed the show in L.A. I heard several versions- a video, a documentary and scenes for the movie. We shall see. There were several cameramen on the stage and in front so it did disrupt some views. There was a special feel in the air that Michael and the troupe were going that extra mile for this show. Afterwards we waited and watched the troupe leave and then someone announced that Michael would sign autographs at the Figuroa Hotel which was within walking distance. So of course we trekked over to see. And sure enough he came out, well guarded by some very,very large guys and what I perceived to be some private and very professional looking security near the street on telephones. It was like the old meet and greet days and {{{YOSHIKO}}} got her MM as did {{{WES}}} and {{{ANKE}}} and others. I did not go forward because I knew there were many others who had not had any chance to talk to him or get a hug. He saw me, however, and greeted me with, "Hello, Darlin. Give us a kiss" so I did and he sweetly said, "You look lovely tonight". Blarney it may be but who cares! That was to be my last time to see him up close and personal and it makes a lovely last memory.

I don't do Goodbye so with a "See ya" to {{{MELINDA}}}I went to find the LA County Art Museum where I met my oldest friend of over 70 years. We grew up together but see each other rarely now. We saw a great exhibit of Winslow Homer paintings. As I read the quotes from the critics of his day I was reminded that they were as harsh or harsher then as they are now. None of them understood the new look to the paintings just as today's critics miss the meaning of Michael's work.*** I spent several days reminiscing with my friend,the one person alive that remembers my father who died when I was seven and who was devoted to my Mother. A special visit where we bonded even more than we had as children. I thank Michael for so much more than just the shows. Without him encouraging me to follow my dream I never would have had these extra special days with friends so far away.*** I drove back to the LA airport before dawn to avoid the freeway rush and arrived way ahead of time for the Denver plane. {{{SUE}}}} met me at the gate and we picked up the rental car and headed for her nephew's house where I was made one of the family.

DENVER: Some folks just make you feel so at home and {{{SUE}}}'s nephew, {{{MIKEY}}}( so many nice guys named Michael!) and his wife {{{ANNEMARIE}}}} sure took me in to their home like I was family. And their beautiful Golden Retriever, {{{QUEENIE}}} and I fell in love instantly.*** I'm sorry to say that the altitude in Denver was hard to take so while walking from the venue to the gathering -only about two blocks away-I was puffing like an old lady (okay, so I AM an old lady!) I was greeted by {{{ANKE}}} and her darling {{{LUTZ}}} who had finally been able to make a show. And {{{JANIS MILLER}}} and her son who I had been anxious to meet. After a Guinness I was able to walk to the venue without gasping for air ( Guinness is very good medecine, you know).{{{SUE}}} and I got our tickets at the last minute and there seemed to have been a tenth row added on the floor so we were joined by several other last minute ticket buyers and we all were delighted to be that close.*** There was a slight pall on the evening since {{{SUE}}} and I had learned that Michael's Mother had been taken to hospital. We thought it best not to spread the information but after the show a security guard announced that Michael would be leaving quickly for Chicago because his mother was ill. (Later in the week, I learned that she was doing fine so all is well) but Michael had to fly to Chicago and back for several days between shows so any days off he had were anything but restful. I also had the great pleasure of meeting {{{JIM ISOM}}} and his wife. I thought that Mrs. Isom was a very perceptive lady as she said to me right after the show,"Something is wrong. I can see it in Michael's eyes" and those I met on this tour who truly look at him beyond the smiles did see the pain and hurt. It nagged at me at every show and I know we all longed to reach out to him.

HOUSTON: {{{SUE}}} and I flew into Houston on the day of the show. Of course since we were anxious to get there that was the day the plane was late. In a hurry we hopped into a cab and realized we were in a Lincoln with no meter but the driver was a charming Frenchman relocated from Paris. {{{SUE}}} filled him full of stories about Michael and the show and she must have convinced him it was worth seeing because she caught sight of him at the Arena- probably bought his ticket with the amount he charged us for the cab ride!!!!*** There was a large gathering in Houston (thank you, {{{ELSA}}} and all) and included my Fairie Goddaughter, {{{ANNIE}}} who had come from Dublin for the last two shows, {{{LIBBY}}},{{{MERRYBETH}}}} and well, just too many to name all. I realize now that I was beginning to close off from the realization that we were getting close to the end. I joined in with the fun and played my part in the show, clapping and cheering, as I had at all the others- it had become a rehearsed part by then. But, I find it hard to remember any details of the Houston show. I had finished my diary and had the guest book signed by many along the way with lovely messages for Michael and had assembled some photos I thought he would like. I was not able to give it to him directly but I hope that he does see it because it held so many stories that I think he would and should know about how much he has meant to so many way beyond his magnificent dancing. To have had so many wonderful moments with him on this journey was beyond my dreams. But, I knew that facing the end would be very hard indeed- for me, of course, but much more for him.

DALLAS: Sometimes the fates are kind and give you an unexpected boost. This time it came by way of the desk clerk at our hotel. {{{CHASE}}} a former dancer himself, delighted us from the first meeting. He sure saw his job as more than registering guests. And although I don't like large cities there was something about the rhythm of Dallas that got to me. The architecture is beautiful and at night the buildings are lit up like nowhere I have seen.Chase took us on a tour in the hotel shuttle.- totally impromtu- and showed us the sights including the corner where JFK was shot. That made me gulp down some difficult memories.****We were very tired and frazzled by the drive from Houston which had taken more than six hours due to road construction and massive traffic jams. Somehow we got mixed up about the Emerald Mist arrangements so missed that wonderful gathering. And those who went to the Hard Rock Cafe may have had fun but we were too weary to face the noise. So, again the fates led us to the "Paris Bistrop" where we dined in style with food that tempted me to order far to much. {{{ANKE}}} and I enjoyed the escargot while {{{LIBBY}}} tried not to look at us eating them!!!! Our French waiter and the manager treated us like we were queens and I must say I could get used to that! Our spirits were renewed and our energy returned and we ended up at an Irish Pub where members of the troupe were having a great time. It was so crowded and noisy that no converstion went on without a number of, "What did you say. I can't hear in here". But, it was fun- I think! One sweet member of the troupe who looks about 12 years old came over to me and put his head on my shoulder. He thanked me for coming to all their shows. It was so dear a moment and I was cheered to know that the old lady in the silly hat, jumping up and down and cheering them on had meant something to him.

DALLAS- THE SHOW: I know I was there and I know I was watching but it is like a hazy memory. It just hurts too much but I will try to tell you what it was like for me. No silly hat tonight. I had been given a second row ticket. The kindness and generosity of the people I have met through this show overwhelms me. I don't believe there are better human beings anywhere and they come from all over the world. The sweet little {{{JENNIFER}}}}from Taiwan who finally did meet Michael in Houston. YES! She had a dream and she persisted and it came true. {{{CLEO}}} who came back to Denver and finally gave Michael a rose and told him they were Birthday twins and he said, "Happy Birthday". Wonderful, {{{ANKE}}} who got her MM in LA along with {{{YOSHIKO}}} who had the most shy but happy look after she got her hug and her husband beamed with joy as he saw how happy she was. The laughs shared with so many, the silly giggles that kept {{{SUE}}} and I up at night, {{{MELINDA}}} saying , "Oh, my God" over and over as the realization of our meeting with Michael finally hit her.She was so cool and put together it was such a treat to see her dissolve into the wonder of it all.My precious {{{ANNIE}}} and the Dublin girls, {{{LIBBY}}},{{{ MERRYBETH}}}, {{{MITZIE}}, {{{LINDA UK}}}} at {{{JUDY G}}}}'s house like sorority sisters at a reunion. If laughter is good for the soul then we were well healed. {{{MARTY}}}'s great hugs, and {{{GHILLIE}}} and {{{CHAR}}}too generous to believe and {{{MICK}}}and {{{LINDA J}}}} and {{{LINDA K}}} and {{{LINDA KAY}}} and {{{JULIE}}} and {{{{KATHY, dear Irishlass, so special to me and {{{KAREN}}} - so talented and sweet-, my {{{QUEEN KATHLEEN}}},{{{{BERNADETTE}}}(thank you a thousand fold), all those who planned gatherings and made name tags- {{{JUDY SIKES}}} in Greenville- so glad you went to the show after all. {{{{DENISE}}}, {{{{ELSA}}}, {{{MIRIAN}}}, {{{{JIM}}}, {{{{ZAMMI}}}}, {{{{FRANCES}}}}, {{{{SHEILA}}}, {{{{KATHERINE}}}}, so many and I'm sorry but I can't remember all right now. There is no end.

Dallas was not an ending although as I watched Michael fighting tears and losing I know he was thinking it was all over. After awhile when his body heals and his energy is soaring into it's creative mode he will be back. I know that he thinks that the only way he can dance is at 35+ taps per second but I also know he will discover a whole new dance. He will find the way and I will say, "I told you so".***At the end of the show when we went to the front of the stage to lay flowers at his feet he could not focus on one individual. His eyes deliberately avoided doing that as he gazed at the cheering throng. I know you cannot bear another person's pain, they have to go through it as part of life and hopefully learn and grow in spirit as a result. But, still I long to take away Michael's pain and see the smile not only on his mouth but in his eyes. He was especially kind to me and when I look at the photos that {{{GHILLIE}}} took of us I find it hard to believe the tenderness he showed when I was with him. You have heard many times of how he looks into your eyes and you become the only two people in the universe and those pictures prove it. For all those who were lucky enough to have moments with him then I know you understand. For those who have yet to have them, don't give up. We have miles to go and your turn will come. I have learned a great deal more about what he means when he says, "Never give in". This journey was impossible a few years ago but the risks I took to make it happen were worth it- more than worth it. The bills will be paid, the family got along without me and learned some lessons themselves, my energy level actually improved with the effort, and the big rewards of this trip- the great friendships- will endure far longer than the two months that I played hooky from "real life". Or was that the real thing and now is just a time to tread water until I leave for another adventure following the Golden Unicorn?

by Jeannie Kaidy

Thank you, (((((((Jeannie))))))), for all the work to write this down for all of us
and for allowing me to upload it!!
We love you!!!

 

These pictures are courtesy of Jeannie Kaidy. Please do not use them on any other sites without permission.
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