MICHAEL FLATLEY, who will forever be known as ‘The Lord of the Dance’, has spawned many imitators since finding fame in Riverdance – his original Lord of the Dance show, which took the Irish dance art-form to an entirely new level.
He has since created Feet of Flames and Celtic Tiger, and now his latest show, Dangerous Games, is touring the UK.
Chicago-born Flatley is now 56 but shows little sign of slowing down. He puts his non-stop drive down to his upbringing, and in particular, his father.
“He wouldn’t let negativity get into his head,” he explains. “As young men, my brothers and I worked with him on construction sites and digging ditches, and it was from him that we learned self-discipline and the importance of doing things properly.”
He says he has lived his life by the motto: ‘Nothing is impossible, follow your dreams’, and that, of course, also came from his dad.
“My father was my hero and he taught me that if you work as hard as possible, you can achieve anything,” says Flatley. “When I was a teenager I was going to dance in the World Championships, and wanted to dance in a new style, using my arms to ‘fly’ around the stage.
“But it was the world championship, so you had to do it traditionally – with arms by your side. My Father told me to get in there, win the world title and then do it my way. He was right. I won the world championship and I’ve never held my arms at my side since.”
That confidence has helped him to develop a string of hugely successful shows, and he says his inspiration for all of them comes from within.
“I believe you have to go inside yourself and work as hard as you can,” he says. “I haven’t watched television for 25 years (but for sport) and I firmly believe you have to look inside rather than outside for inspiration.
“In the past I could spend eight hours working on just the one step, and it wouldn’t come. Then all of a sudden it started to flow… I created so many steps, so fast, and in succession. The channel becomes open, but you have to work for it. It won’t be given.”
As for Dangerous Games, he says: “It’s a high-octane, high-energy spectacular for all the family and you can expect everything from breathtaking special effects and groundbreaking technology, to dancing robots, world-champion acrobats… and unicorns.”
Flatley will not be appearing when Dangerous Games comes to G Live in Guildford from Monday (June 29) and runs until Thursday (July 2). He says: “After years of punishment, my body just can’t take any more! My dancers are the real stars, and this is a show that I can really be proud of.”