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Stepping up the War Dance.

A war dance is all set to hit Scotland, as chorus lines turn into battle lines.

The two biggest, brightest and best dance extravaganzas in the world will be on Scots stages within days of each other.

Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance kicks off with a sensational four- night run at Glasgow's SECC on January 25.

And on February 10, the magical strains of the Irish pipes will sound at Edinburgh's Playhouse to herald the Scots debut of the phenomenal Riverdance. Their run will last until May 17.

Michael Flatley put sex into step-dancing when he first took to the stage with flame- haired Celtic beauty Jean Butler three years ago.

The Irish-American couple, with a stomping chorus behind them, sent sparks flying for 300 million viewers during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin. Riverdance was born.

But that was nothing compared to the quake when Flatley dramatically quit the show in October 1995, just eight months after it first wowed sell- out audiences.

Chicago-born Flatley insists: "It was nothing to do with money."

But the man who now claims to be the highest paid dancer in the world, is currently caught up in a legal wrangle over royalties from Riverdance. He lost creative control of his own choreography and immediately bounced back with plans for Lord of the Dance.

He vowed: "We're going to compete with every major show, including Riverdance."

Riverdance producers poured scorn on the challenge and now Scots audiences can decide for themselves.

But the Riverdance extravaganza will roll into town without the stunning Jean Butler. She departed in December for the bright lights of Hollywood.

Stepping into her shoes will be glamorous Joanne Doyle, a 23-year-old chorus girl from Dublin, whose dreams of stardom are about to come true.

Joanne, who has danced since she was three, was studying for a degree in European Social Policy in Slovenia when Riverdance first shook the world of dance.

Eight months later she joined the troupe and was a leading chorus girl until her big chance came.

Joanne admits to doing sneaky Father Ted impressions during her performances with new male co-star Brendan De Gallai, from Donegal.

Not that their leading roles have gone to their heads. Joanne says: "We now have separate dressing rooms from the rest of the cast.

"But they're a cheeky bunch and most of them don't even bother to knock!" Meanwhile, back at Lord of the Dance, Flatley, whose legs are said to be insured for pounds 25 million, is the main man.

The show has been co-choreographed by the woman behind Hot Gossip, Arlene Phillips.

It's a lot raunchier than Riverdance, where they used to boast their skirts were nine centimetres shorter than the traditional Irish dance skirts.

Flatley's ladies whip off their skirts altogether and leap around in hot-pants and bra-tops.

Flatley is now convinced leaving Riverdance was a blessing in disguise. He says: "God, or fate, lent a hand." He ploughed his pounds 1.4 million fortune into Lord of the Dance, and expects to make a pounds 10 million profit in the next two years.

Meanwhile, Riverdance, which made a whopping pounds 30 million in under two years when it first opened, has been mercilessly ripped off by copy cats.

But the millions of fans who have snapped up videos and flocked to shows are ready for the Big One.

There are only two contenders - the original Riverdance and flamboyant Flatley's Lord of the Dance.

And after this war dance, there will be only one winner.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 12, 1997
Words:589
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