Arts & Entertainment

Tour dancing its way to Toyota Center

The battles between good and evil are never-ending stories, but few pack an energy punch like Lord of the Dance.

All that high-steppin' Irish dancing, fancy footwork and dynamic music could get a crash-test dummy bopping to the beat.

And Michael Flatley's famous dance extravaganza, which has rocked the world for more than a decade, is coming to town Dec. 17 at Toyota Center in Kennewick.

Flatley hasn't actually danced in Lord of the Dance for several years. However, he remains the producer and director of the show he created in Dublin, Ireland, in 1996.

The musical story behind the dance is the classic good guy vs. bad guy, with an equally good girl vs. bad girl thing going on as well. But it's really the incredible music and the vibrant Irish dancing that blow people away.

Many young dancers have danced Flatley's lead role as Lord in the production. The tour group coming to the Tri-Cities will feature 24-year-old Jason Gorman in the role.

Gorman has been a part of Lord of the Dance since he was 16, and he still hasn't tired of the show that has been called "a magical adventure of sight and sound that transports its audience to a mythical time and place."

Gorman admitted in a telephone interview with the Herald that after dancing his way up to a lead role, it was a little stressful trying to fill the big man's dance shoes.

"It was an honor for me to follow Michael's lead in the role of the Lord," Gorman said. "And he's been nothing but gracious, encouraging and wonderful to work for during the past eight years I've danced with this production."

Gorman has been Irish dancing since he was little but didn't take dancing seriously until he was 11.

"I was into sports for a while, but I was never as good at sports as I was with dancing," he said. "Dance just comes easily for me."

The grueling pace of living out of a suitcase for almost a decade has yet to wear thin for Gorman. He grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and during the short breaks between tours, he spends his time teaching dance for corporate studios as well as private lessons.

"I also dance ballet, jazz, hip-hop and just about any other type of dance, so I'm always busy," he said.

But keeping pace with Lord of the Dance has definitely been the most exciting, and he never gets tired of dancing the same role over and over again, he said.

"When you tour for this long, the people you work with become your family, and you actually miss them during the breaks," Gorman said.

The life span of an Irish dancer doesn't exactly extend to retirement age, he added. The extreme nature of the dance eventually takes a toll on various body parts, but one of the ways he stays in shape is by practicing yoga.

"You definitely have to have an exercise program that keeps your body in shape for dancing," Gorman said. "And yoga helps keep the mind as healthy as the body. I figure I've got about another 10 years before my knees start to wear."

Such a rigorous schedule doesn't leave him much time for activities outside of dancing, but he still has his dreams.

"Don't get me wrong. I love my job and feel very lucky to have made it to this point in my career at a young age," Gorman said. "But one day I'd like to go to Barbados and just lie on the beach and do nothing."

But until he has time to make that dream of paradise come true, he said he'll just "go where life takes me."

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;