Art can hackily be divided into two broad categories: high-falutin' underground wankery that is impossible to understand or care about, and watered-down concepts so broad and populist they transcend Art and leap into pop culture, their shallow sails pushed along by millions of mouth-breathing fans. If the subject is the former I am admittedly ignorant and have nothing to say. If it's the latter, well, I get it.
Or I thought I did before I spent over an hour on the Riverdance homepage this morning trying to figure out just what the hell I actually saw Tuesday night. Never you mind why I saw Riverdance at TPAC. On purpose. The important point is it confused the shit out of me.
Maybe it was my fault for expecting a professional, world-famous dance troupe to have a cohesive narrative in their show. Perhaps I was in the wrong for thinking Irish folk dancing does not include Flamenco and African-American jazz. Or Russians. Bono only knows.
My partner in gaiety was likely annoyed by my numerous questions. Are the women wearing velour? Why does the main dancer look exactly like Chris Kattan? Isn't this happy jig about emigration supposed to take place in the middle of the potato famine? Are these stand-alone mythical vignettes or is there supposed to be an overarching love story? Is Liam Neeson the narrator? If so, why?
And I wasn't kidding about the Flamenco, jazz, or Russians. Even the website doesn't know what the beefy commie dance was trying to say:
Meeting the new, what we learn first is that there is something familiar in what is strange, something strange in what we had thought familiar. A tune from another place, another lifetime, can turn and haunt in the heart.
Say buh? That's bullshit, right? Ah, no matter. I was able to escape the house for a few hours and the rest of the audience seemed to love it. Forgetting they were at a theatre and not the goddamn circus, all of the 60-year-old ladies clap-clap-clapped and ooh'd and ahh'd at every feat of Celtic clogging wizardry. I suppose that's the point of Pop Culture Art. Escapism, engagement, entertainment. Even if doesn't make a lick of fucking sense.