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terrible year Michael Flatley says the Covid crisis been 'devastating' for entertainers - 'I’m no different'


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Flatley has struggled to keep his 100 dancers on the road this year

Flatley has struggled to keep his 100 dancers on the road this year

Flatley has struggled to keep his 100 dancers on the road this year

Showbiz superstar Michael Flatley says he's determined to stage at least one major event next year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Lord of the Dance extravaganza.

The dance wizard, who has just launched an online challenge to raise funds for the homeless in Ireland, spoke of his struggles to keep the show on the road for his 100 dancers amid this year's pandemic.

"It's been a brutal year," Michael tells the Sunday World. "It's been a devastating year for all of us in entertainment, and I'm no different.

"So many people in showbusiness have lost their shirts this year. There are so many gone out of business…theatres, show bookers, public relations companies…everyone around us.

"My dancers didn't work for months, and I don't even know when we're going to be able to get out again because there's still no certainty going into 2021.

"We have pencilled in a mountain of dates for our 25th anniversary next year, but we won't hear a word until January or February when we find out about lockdowns and vaccines and whatever the governments decide.

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Flatley says it is horrific to see people
sleeping out on the streets

Flatley says it is horrific to see people sleeping out on the streets

Flatley says it is horrific to see people sleeping out on the streets

"I am determined to do at least one show next year for the dancers themselves to celebrate 25 years.

"I'm talking to Prince Albert about maybe doing it in Monaco, and talking to a few other people. I want to do it for the dancers because I'm so proud of them.

"We had a run of sold-out shows in Taiwan in the middle of this global pandemic. The dancers spent 14 days in lockdown, in isolation in their own hotel rooms. They weren't allowed to see anybody, they had to eat in the room and train in the room by Zoom.

"We were so happy to get to do those shows in Taiwan. We sent them a rider with specifics a mile long of how we wanted protection for the dancers and the audience, and my god they were meticulous.

"They had sold-out shows, somewhere between 15,000 people a pop, and they all wore their masks. They were all crammed in there, and there was not a problem with anybody."

Touring in a Covid-19 world has been hugely challenging for Flatley's dancers and crew.

"When they were in Beijing I got the call in the middle of the night saying, 'Help, we got to get the dancers out, the whole city is going into lockdown in the morning.' Then we had the nightmare logistics of that, waking people up everywhere to try and get them out and on to Taiwan," Michael reveals.

"Then I had to get them to Mexico for the next run. Trump put the hammer down and said, 'if you've been in China you're not allowed in America', so that was middle-of-the-night stuff again, rerouting everybody through Canada down into Mexico."

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Michael on stage with his dancing crew

Michael on stage with his dancing crew

Michael on stage with his dancing crew

"I'm praying that we can come out of this. I'm a positive man and I believe that somehow, between us and our leaders, we'll find a way out of this sooner than anybody else.

"We've got to get the theatres and the artists back working, and we've got to get the Irish pubs open because they're the heartbeat of every little town and village."

Flatley, who is spending Christmas with his wife Niamh and son Michael Jnr at his Castlehyde home in Fermoy, Co. Cork, has teamed up with Depaul Ireland, an All-Ireland charity that helps people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

"I travel a lot around the world and I see homeless people everywhere I go," Michael says. "It's just heartbreaking. I was in Cork one day in the rain and the cold and as I was running to my car I saw this older woman settling down in a doorway with two suitcases, and pulling plastic over herself to shield from the rain.

"I thought, 'Good God almighty this is horrific.' It wasn't just that lady, there were homeless people everywhere.

"If there's a way we can all pull together we can at least make a difference for some people."

Flatley has now launched an online charity fundraising challenge called #FlatleysTapForTen, supported by his celebrity pals including Ronan O'Gara, Eddie Jordan, Damon Hill, Keith Duffy and Eamonn Holmes.

All you have to do is post a 10-second video clip dancing or having fun on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

"You don't need to dance, you don't even need to make a video - if you just want to donate please do," Michael says. "And if you do a video please don't think you have to do professional dancing or Irish dancing, just do anything you want."

  • Go to Instagram @michaelflatleyofficial; facebook.com/MichaelFlatley; Twitter: @michaelflatley.
  • You can also donate at gofundme.com/f/flatleystapforten.

Sunday World


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