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‘Lord of the Dance’ Michael Flatley urges young people with dreams to follow his footsteps

“This is the dream for many of the young kids coming up and I think that’s why they work so hard to win competitions and to get better at what their art form is, because they are hoping to one day get into one of my shows.”

Michael Flatley at the Irish Premiere screening of his film 'Blackbird at the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin Photo: Brian McEvoy

Eddie RowleySunday World

DANCE superstar Michael Flatley has urged young people with a passion for Irish dancing to continue to pursue their dreams, saying: “There is so much more to Irish dancing than winning a trophy.”

The man who created the ground-breaking choreography for Riverdance before going on to enjoy global success with his Lord Of The Dance show, said the world of entertainment is waiting to welcome young dancers.

Although he didn’t wish to comment on the current controversy involving claims of contest fixing in the competitive Irish dancing scene, Flatley said parents should continue to support their young children who have passion and ambition to be professional dancers.

“Our Lord Of The Dance shows give young people more to strive for than just winning a trophy,” Michael tells the Sunday World in an exclusive interview.

“All the beautiful young children and dancers should know that there is something bigger and better waiting when they are done with the competitions. And they deserve their success for all their hard work.”

Since its premiere in Dublin 25 years ago, Lord Of The Dance has become one the most successful touring productions in entertainment history, having been seen by over 60 million people.

“We’re in the joy business, we’re spreading Irish culture and joy around the world,” Michael says. “For a lot of young dancers coming up through the ranks our show is something to look forward to, something to hope for and something to work for so that they can have something that they will be proud of after all their years of hard work and practice.

“This is the dream for many of the young kids coming up and I think that’s why they work so hard to win competitions and to get better at what their art form is, because they are hoping to one day get into one of my shows.

“My dancers have a beautiful life travelling the world, seeing every great city and getting standing ovations by night.

“And an important point for me to make is that not all of the dancers I choose in my shows have won a world championship, nor do they need to. There are some very special dancers that for some reason didn’t win their world championship, but when they are on stage they come alive under the lights. They belong on stage, they want to be on stage, they need to be on stage.

“They are born actors and performers. It’s my job to bring out the best in each one of them to give them an opportunity to fulfil their dreams to do something great in their lives. To make each and everyone of them a star is my goal.

“Many of the dancers in our shows will have come up through the competitions and, of course, we have many other dancers in the show from other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada and America. We have them from everywhere now because it seems that everyone these days wants to be involved in Irish dancing.”

“It has created livelihoods and lifestyles for my dancers who have gone on to run their own successful dance schools because they had a big name in my shows.

“When we did a six weeks sell-out tour of Broadway with Lord of the Dance, one of the dancers came up to me and said his mum was coming over from England and would I meet her for a photograph backstage after the show.

“I said ‘no problem, bring her back.’ Then a little light bulb went off in my head and I went after him and said, ‘Liam, you’ve been practising the bad guy role, get suited up you are doing it tonight.’

“So he got suited up and he brought the house down with his mam watching in the audience crying her eyes out. For the rest of that Broadway run I then invited everyone of my dancers, as many as could do it, to try one of the four lead roles in the show and I had a different one every night. It was for when they retired from my show that their CV for the rest of their life would say, ‘I was a star on Broadway.’ I can’t tell you how many dancers have told me how that one sentence later opened doors for them.

“So that’s my dream, to make stars out of my dancers so that they will continue to take this show around the world to raise the profile of Irish culture, do good things and pave the way for young talented dancers that want to come up and do something bigger and better with their lives in the name of Ireland.”

MICHAEL Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance, which is currently enjoying standing ovations at sold-out shows around Europe, will play Dublin’s Bord Gais Energy Theatre from Thursday February 23 to Saturday, February 25, 2023, including matinee shows on the Friday and Saturday. Tickets are now on sale.

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