News: Farewell to Michael Flatley

Friday 13 March 2015 by Clare Evans

Michael Flatley - Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

Michael Flatley, the Lord of Irish Dance, has announced his last performance ever. The final farewell will be on stage at Wembley Arena on July 4th as part of the Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games UK Tour.

It’s been a long time coming for Flatley, 56, who’s been performing since Riverdance went from Eurovision interval performance to international phenomenon back in 1994. Flatley was already in his mid-thirties then, a time when most footballers and other pro-athletes retire, and says, “that after years of punishment, my body just can’t take anymore”. He also wants to give the younger stars of his company a chance to shine, including James Keegan, who will be following in Flatley’s lighting-fast footsteps and performing the lead role of Lord of the Dance.

Talking on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row last night, Flatley opened up about his initial struggle to make a living out of his dance, and how he supported himself digging ditches before he found success.

“I was a long time at the busstop, and I finally got my shot. I’d been on and off for 10 years supporting myself as a labourer, mainly digging ditches, working on my dance in the evenings or when I could but I tried never to lose my dream of getting to the final hurdle. I thought to myself… it’s just never going to happen, but you just have to believe. And it didn’t matter if I was at the bottom of the ditch, my mind was on stage. And finally when I was 35 I got the opportunity to create Riverdance for Eurovision, and it took off, thank God.”

Flatley’s unique vision has seen him inject glitz, bling, and plenty of shirtless men into the traditional Irish dance form, and has earned him his fair share of critics over the years. Dangerous Games is no exception, with a line up of holographs and dancing robots ready to push the boundries of taste. But fan or not, Flatley has earned his reputation as a prodigiously talented Irish dancer, even holding the World Record for taps per second, an astonishing 35. And although he has undoubtedly left his mark on the dance form, he is proud of its origins.

“I’m very proud to be an Irish dancer, it is like nothing else, and it shouldn’t be like anything else.”

Book tickets or find out more about Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games here.

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