Michael Ryan Flatley (born July 16, 1958) is an Irish-American dancer,
choreographer, and musician. He became internationally known for Irish
dance shows Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Feet of Flames, and Celtic
1 Early life
2.1 Early career
2.3 Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames
2.4 Celtic Tiger
2.5 Return to the stage
2.6 A Night to Remember
2.7 The Irish Post Awards
2.8 Other awards and achievements
3 Personal life
5 External links
Flatley is a native of the South Side of Chicago. He is of Irish
background, being born to Irish parents Michael and Eilish. His
parents were both Irish-born, but emigrated to the US several years
before Michael's birth. Michael is the second of five children.
He has three sisters, Anne-Marie, Eliza and Thomasina, as well as a
He began dancing lessons at age 11, and at age 17 was the first
American to secure a World Irish Dance title at Oireachtas Rince na
Cruinne (the Irish Dancing World Championships). He is also an
accomplished flautist, having won twice in the All-Ireland Fleadh
Flute competitions from 1975-1976 and later in his
career having released two albums. In his youth, Flatley also
practiced amateur boxing; at age 17 after winning a High School
Intramural bout he competed in the
Chicago Golden Gloves tournament in
the 126 lb. novice division, losing to Kenneth Reed on February 25.
Flatley was taught dance by Dennis Dennehy at the Dennehy School of
Irish Dance in Chicago, then went on to produce his own show. After
graduating from Brother Rice High School, on Chicago's Southwest Side,
he opened a dance school, but later closed it down to focus on
From 1978 to 1979 he toured with Green Fields of America, and in the
1980s he toured with The Chieftains.
Main article: Riverdance
According to Flatley, he created and choreographed the original
Riverdance and led the show to great success as the intermission act
in the Eurovision Song Contest staged in Ireland on April 30,
1994. The performance in the Eurovision Song Contest was
produced by Moya Doherty. She is married to co-founder of
Riverdance, John McColgan, and she is regarded as one of the richest
women in Ireland, with an estimated fortune of £42 million (almost
$60 million). The finale piece was co-choreographed by dance
Jean Butler with Flatley himself. Butler was his partner in a
famous video clip. The response was so explosive that it was
extended into a full show, starring Butler and Flatley.
The show toured throughout 1995. Later, in the eve of the show's first
full-length run in London, Flatley learned he had been replaced by the
show producers due to conflicts over creative control; he and the
producers had been in negotiations. The producers refused his terms,
so he refused to perform, and then the producers, according to the
producers, replaced him with
Colin Dunne at the last minute, on
October 1995. Dunne was already employed by the producers for other
skits below the feature and finale. Butler left the show in 1997,
although it continued its success and inspirations.
Despite this, Flatley is still credited as original choreographer in
Lord of the Dance and Feet of Flames
Shortly after the
Riverdance split, Flatley created Lord of the Dance,
which played mostly in arenas and stadiums instead of traditional
theaters. The show premiered in the
3Arena of Dublin (then named as
"The Point") then it made its U.K. premiere in
London at the Coliseum
An expanded version of the show called
Feet of Flames
Feet of Flames premiered in
1998, with a performance at the Route of Kings section of London's
Hyde Park. The 1998 show featured six new numbers; one of which is
Flatley's solo, a tall stage with multi-level tiers, and a live band.
Later in 1999, he produced another version of that show with 50%
differences from the 1998 show. Titled Feet of Flames: The Victory
Tour, he toured Europe in 2000 and the U.S. in 2001. He formed another
group after that, retiring in 2016. He held a world record of the
number of taps per second.
Irish dance show Celtic Tiger opened in July 2005. The
show explores the history of the
Irish people and Irish emigration to
the U.S., fusing a wide range of dance styles, including jazz. The
show also includes popular elements from his previous shows, such as
Flatley's flute solos and the line of dancers in the finale.
In 2006, Flatley released his own autobiographical book titled Lord of
the Dance: My Story. Regarding his future, Flatley was quoted in
the Celtic Tiger program book as saying, "I will be a dancer until the
day I die".
In 2007, The Freedom of the City of Cork was conferred on Flatley at a
ceremony in Cork's City Hall. In 2008, he was conferred with the
Freedom of the Borough of
Sligo at a ceremony in
Sligo City Hall.
The Variety Club of Ireland presented Flatley with their Entertainer
of the Decade Award in 2008.
In fall 2007, Flatley and a troupe of male dancers performed on
Dancing with the Stars
Dancing with the Stars in the U.S. In 2008, he appeared as a guest
judge on an episode of the show, filling in for Len Goodman.
Also in 2008, he performed the solo "Capone" from Celtic Tiger on the
show. Flatley was also the host of the 2009
NBC series Superstars
Return to the stage
Flatley returned to the stage in 2009 for a limited run of the "Hyde
Park" version of
Feet of Flames
Feet of Flames in Taiwan. His return was met with
multiple standing ovations and the run of shows had to be extended to
meet the demand for tickets.
In 2010, he returned to headline the Lord of the Dance show, with
performances in arenas across
England and Ireland, Germany,
Switzerland and Austria. Lord of the Dance 3D, the film of the
return tour, debuted in theaters worldwide in 2011. The movie
featured new sets, new costumes, state-of-the-art lighting,
pyrotechnics and projections, and it shows the performances from the
O2 Arenas of London, Dublin, and Berlin. A DVD and Blu-ray Disc of
the film was released entitled
Michael Flatley Returns as Lord of the
Dance. The 3D version of the film was released only on Blu-ray.
Also in 2010, Flatley launched The Garden of Music and Memory in
Culfadda, County Sligo, the village his father left to seek a new life
in America. The ceremony included a speech and an impromptu
performance of one of his father's favorite tunes. Flatley was
also among the list of international film and sports stars and amateur
golfers who participated in the fundraising golf Pro-Am, the JP
McManus Pro-Am in
Adare Manor Hotel and Golf Resort in Adare, County
Limerick, Ireland in 2010.
In 2011, he was inducted into Irish America magazine's Irish America
Hall of Fame.
Flatley released a flute album titled On A Different Note in 2011.
The 25 tracks include airs and tunes he has played in his shows, other
traditional tunes, and new compositions.
A Night to Remember
On May 18, 2014, Flatley recorded a one-off 60 minute special entitled
Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember celebrating his long career.
The show aired on June 1, 2014 and was presented by Christine
The Irish Post Awards
On October 24, 2013, Flatley attended The Irish Post Awards on Park
Lane where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award to recognise the
impact of his career as a global dance superstar and entrepreneur.
Other awards and achievements
Flatley is a recipient of a 1988
National Heritage Fellowship awarded
by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States
government's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.
In December 2001, Flatley became the first recipient of the Irish
Dancing Commission Fellowship award, an honorary degree in Irish
dance, and was also made a Fellow of the American Irish Dance
Irish America magazine named Flatley Irish
American of the Year in March 2003. In 2004, Flatley received an
honorary doctorate degree from University College Dublin, and that
same year received the prestigious
Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New
In 2017 Flatley performed at the inauguration of Donald Trump.
In 2003, an allegation was made by real estate agent Tyna Marie
Robertson that Flatley had raped her in 2002 at a
Las Vegas hotel. In
the subsequent court case, she was ordered to pay $11 million
compensation to Flatley for defamation and extortion.
In April 2006, Flatley spoke about his discovery of a facial skin
At the 10th anniversary of Lord of the Dance in June 2006, Flatley was
accompanied by dancer Niamh O'Brien, who dances with him in Celtic
Tiger. O'Brien had danced with Flatley in Riverdance, Lord of the
Feet of Flames
Feet of Flames before they shared the stage in Celtic
Tiger. The two shortly thereafter announced that they were dating,
and were married in a Roman Catholic ceremony in Fermoy, County Cork,
on October 14, 2006.
On November 15, 2006, Flatley was admitted to a private London
hospital with a viral infection. All the fall and winter tours of
his latest production, Celtic Tiger, were cancelled. He was discharged
two weeks later.
He and his wife, Niamh Flatley have a son, Michael St. James, born in
On May 23, 2015, Flatley was interviewed by
Graham Norton for his BBC
Radio 2 show and revealed that he had problems with various bones,
including the T1 and T5, the C3, the L5 vertebrae and the Sacroiliac
joint in his spine, a damaged left knee, a torn right calf muscle, two
ruptured Achilles tendons, a fractured rib, and a broken bone in his
foot. He confirmed that he planned to retire at the end of 2015,
with his last scheduled appearance in
Austria on December 5.
^ a b c Slater, Sarah. "
Michael Flatley left devastated after death of
his beloved father". The Mirror. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
^ . Irishamerica.com. Retrieved on March 20, 2015.
^ Flatley, Michael; Thompson, Douglas (2006). Lord of the Dance: My
Story. London: Pan Macmillan. pp. 1–8.
^ "1975 Sectional Results". BoxRec. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
^ Giangrasse Kate, Joan. "Dennis G. Dennehy, 1939-201". Chicago
Tribune. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
Michael Flatley Lifetime". Lifetimetv.co.uk. Archived
from the original on September 19, 2015. Retrieved September 2,
Michael Flatley MIKEroCosm Archived November 9, 2007, at the Wayback
Machine.. Celticcafe.com. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
^ a b Flatley, Michael (July 25, 2014). "
Michael Flatley - A Night to
ITV (TV network)
ITV (TV network) (Interview). Interview with Christine
Bleakley. London: ITV. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
^ Roberts, Sophie. "Political moves Who is Michael Flatley? Irish
dance legend appearing at Donald Trump inauguration ball – all you
need to know". The Sun. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
^ a b c Warren, Jane. "What became of the
Riverdance Queen? Jean
Butler explains why she left the limelight". The Express. Retrieved 26
^ Taylor, Jeffrey. "'
Michael Flatley should be grateful to me,' says
Riverdance creator Moya Doherty". The Express. Retrieved 26 July
^ "Michael Flatley". Britannica. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
^ "Lord of the Dance
Michael Flatley in his farewell performance
(VIDEO)". The Irish Central. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
^ a b "Michael Flatley". Britannica. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
^ a b Fricker, Karen. "Review: 'Celtic Tiger'". Variety. Retrieved 25
^ Kelleher, Olivia. "Freedom of Cork city conferred on Michael
Flatley". The Irish Times. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
^ a b
Michael Flatley Smashes Box Office Records in Taiwan. Business
Wire (December 21, 2009). Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
^ "Variety Club puts best foot forward with Flatley gong". Independent
Woman Celeb News. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
^ a b "Dancing with the Stars: Round 9 Results". IMDB. Retrieved 25
^ "Former 'Riverdance' star
Michael Flatley to perform on 'Dancing
With the Stars'". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 25 July
^ "Superstars of Dance". TV Series Finale. Retrieved 25 July
^ "Michael Flatley". Britannica. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
^ ""Lord of the Dance returns to Ireland"". [permanent dead link]
^ a b "Lord of the Dance in 3D". IMDB. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
^ Cox, Gordon (December 8, 2010). "'Lord' dances to screens in 3D".
^ a b "Garden of Music opened by Flatley". The
Retrieved 2 August 2017.
^ "Stock Photo -
Michael Flatley at JP McManus Pro-Am Golf Tournament,
Adare Manor Hotel, Ireland 5th & 6th July 2010". Alamy. Retrieved
2 August 2017.
^ McGoldrick, Debbie. "The Man Who Brought Irish Dance To the Global
Stage", Irish America magazine, March 10, 2011. Accessed March 22,
2011. "He's been the world's most famous lord for the past 15 years.
Michael Flatley is poised to become a movie star ... and a 3D one
^ Harty, Patricia. "What Are You Like? Michael Flatley: The Last
Dance". Irish America. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
^ "On a Different Note" – via Amazon.
^ "Michael Flatley: A Night To Remember". Retrieved 4 August
^ "TV Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember". entertainment.ie.
2014-06-01. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
Michael Flatley shines at Irish Post Business Awards".
Irishpost.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
^ "NEA National Heritage Fellowships 1988". www.arts.gov. National
Endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
^ a b Watson and Halus, William E and Eugene J. (2015). Irish
Americans: The History and Culture of a People. California, USA: ABC-
CLIO. p. 306.
^ Downes, John. "
Michael Flatley and Charlie Bird among those honoured
by UCD". The Irish Times. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
^ Holpuch, Amanda (19 January 2017). "'Lord of the Dance' Michael
Flatley to perform at Trump inauguration ball". The Guardian.
Retrieved 22 January 2017.
^ "Flatley wins $11m over rape claim". BBC News Online. December 8,
2007. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
^ "Flatley faced cancer scare after TV chat". ContactMusic.com.
^ "Niamh O'Brien". IMDB. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
^ a b Daily Mirror (October 15, 2006). "Flatley dances up aisle". The
Daily Mirror. Archived from the original on October 19, 2006.
^ Castle, Tim (November 16, 2006). ""Celtic" dancer Flatley in
hospital, cancels tour". Reuters.com. Retrieved December 9,
^ "News and Events". MichaelFlatley.com. Archived from the original on
September 15, 2007.
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 - Graham Norton, Live from Vienna for the Eurovision
Song Contest". Bbc.co.uk. 2015-05-23. Retrieved 2015-09-02.
^ Caroline O’Doherty (2015-03-30). "Lord of the dance Michael
Flatley announces his retirement". Irish Examiner. Retrieved
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michael Flatley.
Lord of the Dance website
Michael Flatley on IMDb
Sean-nós dance (in the United States)
2 and 4
Single and double jig
Haste to the Wedding
South Galway Set
Clare Lancers Set
An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha
Conradh na Gaeilge
An Comhdháil na Múinteoirí le Rincí Gaelacha
World Irish Dance Association
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne
Shows and groups
Lord of the Dance
Dancing on Dangerous Ground
Feet of Flames
The Keltic Dreams
Breandán de Gallaí
Public Dance Halls Act 1935
Jig (2011 film)
Michael Flatley's dance shows
Lord of the Dance
Feet of Flames
Breandán de Gallaí
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