Michael Flatley is an Iristh-American dancer who is well-recognized for his work with “Lord of the Dance“. He’s also been part of “Riverdance“, “Celtic Tiger Live“, and “Feet of Flames.” His shows have played to more than 60 million people in 60 countries and have grossed more than $1 billion. Previously, he held the Guinness World Record for tap dancing 35 times per second and his feet were at one time insured for $57.6 million. Flatley retired from dance in 2016 due to constant spinal, knee, foot, and rib pain. He initially trained as both a boxer and a flutist. When he was 17, he became the first American to win a World Irish Dance Title at the World Irish Dance Championships. He fought for the Chicago Golden Gloves Championship when he was 17.
What is Michael Flatley Known For?
- Michael Flatley is a renowned dancer who is credited with reinventing traditional Irish dance by incorporating new rhythms, syncopation, and upper body movements, which were previously absent from the dance, as well as including influences from the tap and contemporary dance.
- He is known for Irish dance shows Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Feet of Flames, and Celtic Tiger Live.
Where is Michael Flatley From?
Michael Flatley took birth on 16th July 1958 with the birth name of Michael Ryan Flatley. He is from Chicago, Illinois, the USA. He is the second of five children born to Irish parents – Michael James Flatley and Elisabeth “Eilish” Flatley (née Ryan), both of whom had emigrated to the United States in 1947. His dad was a plumber from County Sligo, and his mum was a gifted step-dancer from County Carlow whose mother, Hannah Ryan, was a champion dancer.
His father and mother met at an Irish dance in Detroit and were married in that city on August 25, 1956. They had five children: Anne-Marie, Michael, Eliza, Thomasina, and Patrick. When Michael was two months old, the family moved from Detroit to Chicago’s South Side. He holds Irish-American nationality and his ethnicity is Mixed. His present age is 64 as of 2022. His zodiac sign is Cancer and he follows Christianity religion.
Flatley, at age 11, began dance lessons with Dennis G. Dennehy at the Dennehy School of Irish Dance. He attended Brother Rice High School, an all-boys Catholic private school. At age 17, he was the first American to win a World Irish Dance title at Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne, the Irish dancing championships. In 1975 and 1976, he won twice in the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil concert flute competitions.
In the 1970s, he competed in the amateur boxing Chicago Golden Gloves tournament in the 126-pound novice division and won the middleweight division of the Chicago Golden Gloves Boxing Championship. He recorded five knock-out victories. He also stated that he continued to flirt with the idea of becoming a professional into the early 1980s, but ultimately stayed with a career in dance.
Michael Flatley Career Timeline
- Michael Flatley initially worked in various fields after his graduation. He toured with “Green Fields of America” from 1978 to 1979. He toured with “The Chieftains” in the 1980s.
- Later, he performed a 7-minute show titled “Riverdance” after he was invited to help create an intermission show for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. The show was produced by Moya Doherty.
- He left Riverdance in September 1995 to pursue what would eventually become Lord of the Dance. He even had been in a dispute with the Riverdance producers over his salary and royalty fees. He was fired the night before the show was set to begin its second run in London and replaced with Colin Dunne. After the split, Flatley said, “I just wanted control over the work that I had created myself. That’s all. I don’t think that that’s too much to ask. I felt like I built it and they took it, and that’s the end of it… and it hurt.”
- Flatley then decided to create his own show, “Lord of the Dance”. The show premiered in June 1996 at the Point Theatre (now 3Arena) in Dublin then made its U.K. premiere at the London Coliseum.
- He created an expanded version of the show called “Feet of Flames” in 1998. The show featured six new numbers; one of which is Flatley’s solo. Further, he produced another version of “Feet of Flames” in 1999.
- Titled “Feet of Flames: The Victory World Tour”, the show was performed also on a multi-level stage and toured Europe in 2000 and the U.S. in 2001.
- His next show, “Celtic Tiger Live”, opened in July 2005 and explores the history of the Irish people and Irish emigration to the U.S., fusing a wide range of dance styles, including jazz.
- He wrote “I will be a dancer until the day I die” in the program book of the show. On 15th November 2006, prior to the autumn and winter tours of the show, Flatley was admitted to a private London hospital with a viral infection. He was discharged two weeks later and canceled said tour.
- In 2006, he released Lord of the Dance: My Story, his autobiography.
- He along with a troupe of male dancers performed on Dancing with the Stars in the U.S. in November 2007. He appeared as a guest judge on an episode of the show, filling in for Len Goodman in October 2008. Likewise, he performed the solo “Capone” from Celtic Tiger on the show.
- He was also the host of “Superstars of Dance”, an NBC series that ran for 5 episodes in early 2009. He performed on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, during the 1997 Academy Awards ceremony, and was interviewed on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories in 2011.
- He later returned to the stage for a limited run of the “Hyde Park” version of ‘Feet of Flames’ in Taiwan in December 2009.
- He returned to headline the Lord of the Dance show, with performances in arenas in England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria in 2010.
- After a year, “Lord of the Dance 3D”, the 3D film of the return tour, debuted in theaters worldwide. The 3D film was later released on DVD and Blu-ray under the title, “Michael Flatley Returns as Lord of the Dance”. He next released On A Different Note, a flute album in 2011.
- He recorded a one-off 60-minute ITV Music Specials episode titled “Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember” on 18th May 2014. The show aired on June 1, 2014, and was presented by Christine Bleakley.
- Then, he created a revised spin-off of Lord of the Dance, entitled “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games”.
- In November 2015, his show “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games” premiered at the Lyric Theatre, a Broadway theatre.
- He also introduced his troupe for a performance at the inauguration of Donald Trump in January 2017. He wrote, directed, financed, and starred in “Blackbird” in 2018. “Blackbird” premiered in August 2022 at the Light House Cinema in Dublin.
Michael Flatley Awards and Achievements
- Received a National Heritage Fellowship, the highest folk-related honor awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988
- Became the first recipient of the Irish Dancing Commission Fellowship award (an honorary degree in Irish dance) in 2001
- Made a Fellow of the American Irish Dance Teachers’ Association in 2001
- Received a special award from Prince Rainier of Monaco for his charity work in 2003
- Irish America magazine named Flatley Irish American of the Year in March 2003
- Received an honorary doctorate degree from University College Dublin in 2004
- Received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New York in 2004
- Received an honorary degree from the University of Limerick in 2016
- The Freedom of the City of Cork was conferred on Flatley at a ceremony in Cork’s City Hall in 2007
- Was conferred with the Freedom of the Borough of Sligo at a ceremony in Sligo City Hall in 2008
- The Variety Club of Ireland presented Flatley with their Entertainer of the Decade Award in 2008
- Was inducted into Irish America magazine’s Irish America Hall of Fame in 2011
- Received the Lifetime Achievement Award at The Irish Post Awards on Park Lane on 24th October 2013
- In July 2021, he received the award for Best Actor at the Monaco Streaming Film Festival for his role in Blackbird
- Received the Freedom of the City of London honor from London, UK, which names a number of specific actions those who receive the honor can take that other cannot—such as the ability to “drive a herd of sheep over London Bridge”.
How much is Michael Flatley’s Net Worth?
Michael Flatley is a successful dancer and choreographer whose net worth is estimated to have $350 million as of January 2023. His net worth was reported at €301 million in 2019. His annual salary is above $30 million at present. His main source of welath comes from the dancing industry and the entertainment industry. He is the owner of dance shows like Riverdance and Lord of Dance. The Lord of dance Property is considered to be worth two billion dollars right now. He is 40% the owner of that property. He lives a lavish lifestyle right now. He also founded the food and beverage company Castlehyde, named for his residential estate. In 1997, he earned £36 million, ranking him 25th among the world’s highest-earning entertainers.
In 2001, he purchased Castlehyde, the house originally owned by Douglas Hyde, the first president of Ireland, near Fermoy in north-east Cork, then in a derelict condition, for €3 million. Moreover, he spent €27 million renovating the mansion and another €20 million furnishing it with artwork and antiques. He purchased a mansion in Belgravia, just off Eaton Square, for €28 million and listed Castlehyde for sale for €20 million in 2015. He owns valuable properties in the Caribbean, New York, Beverly Hills, and Villefranche-sur-Mer. He has invested a significant portion of his wealth in Berkshire Hathaway.
Michael has raised over €1 million for his charitable foundation by selling paintings made using his feet. In 2020 he created the “Flatley’sTapForTen challenge” in order to raise money for people found homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic, benefiting the charities Depaul in Ireland and Centrepoint in the UK. In 2021, he was named an Ambassador of Culture for Co Saolfada, a cancer research advocacy program.
In 2022 he began fundraising for the humanitarian effort during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, providing revenue from his company’s dance performances to the cause.
Who is Michael Flatley’s Wife?
Michael Flatley is a married man to his beautiful wife, Niamh O’Brien. On October 14, 2006, the couple married at the heritage landmark St. Patrick’s Church in Fermoy, County Cork, with a lavish reception hosted in Flatley’s historic Castlehyde House, also located in Cork, Ireland. He and his wife have a son, Michael St. James, born in 2007. In June 2006, he began dating Niamh O’Brien, a longtime dancer from several of his shows. They divide their time between a home in Monte Carlo and Castlehyde House in Ireland. The family is living a happy life at present. His sexual orientation is straight.
Previously, he tied the knot to his wife Beata Dziaba in 1986 in a Danish registry office. The duo met each other in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Later, they divorced in 1997 after multiple affairs with other women.
How tall is Michael Flatley?
Michael Flatley is a handsome man with an average body type. He stands tall at the height of 5 feet 9 inches or 1.75 m. His body weight consists of 143 lbs or 65 KG. His hair color is brown. His one eye is green and his other eye is blue.
In 2003, he was treated for malignant melanoma. He later stated, “It was purely by chance that it was noticed […] I had never even noticed it … it can be a frightening place to be.” Flatley, in May 2015, revealed that much of his vertebral column was irreparably damaged and that he had a damaged left knee, a torn right calf/triceps surae muscle, two ruptured Achilles tendons, a fractured rib, and a recurring broken bone in his foot.
Michael Flatley diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer
On 11th January 2023, a spokesperson for Flatley announced that he had undergone surgery after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. The statement read, “Dear friends, we have something personal to share, Michael Flatley has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. He has undergone surgery and is in the care of an excellent team of doctors. No further comments will be made at this time. We ask only for your prayers and well wishes.”