Michael Flatley Biography

Tamara Warta
irishballet

Any extensive Michael Flatley biography is made up of stories explaining how this dancer became one of the current era's most influential Irish step dancers. Below you can learn some basic information on the life and times of this famous choreographer, as well as pick up some unique facts not commonly known about this Irish-American who dreams even bigger than he performs.

The Roots of Michael Flatley

Flatley has the technique and flair of someone who grew up in Ireland, however in actuality he was born in Chicago in the late 1950s. Growing up on the south side of this famous city in Illinois, Flatley began dancing at age 11, and by the time he was 17, he was the first non-European to win the All-Ireland World Championship for Irish dance. This accomplishment was only one of many in Flatley's young life, and others included training in boxing and winning the Chicago Golden Gloves Championship the same year he won the dance championship, and also winning multiple accolades as a flute player.

Following these passions and aspirations for the arts, Michael Flatley opened his own dance school following his high school graduation.

The Making of a Michael Flatley Biography Begins

One of the key biographical moments in the professional life of Flatley is found in the enormous success of Riverdance, which he co-created and choreographed in the mid 1990s. The group continues to be legendary in its popularity, and originally started as a seven-minute intermission entertainment piece for a European song contest.

Even though Riverdance brought much success and an unmatchable boost to Flatley's resume, he left the full-length version after numerous creative disputes and arguments. He went on to produce Lord of the Dance, which many regard as a direct sequel to Riverdance, while others see it as Flatley's statement of defiance against the Riverdance empire. Either way, Lord of the Dance went on to be wildly successful, and casts of the show continue to tour and perform all over the world today. These two artistic efforts helped put Irish step dance in the spotlight, greatly heightening its popularity in the United States and spawning countless Irish step schools, competitions and inspiring dancers all across the nation.

Flatley Today

The current chapter of the Michael Flatley biography still involves a lot of dancing. He created his most current Irish dance show, Celtic Tiger, in 1995 and it continues to entertain audiences today. The performance is themed off of Ireland's diverse history and the story of many Irish emigrations into the U.S. The show goes beyond just Irish step dance, as Flatley incorporates many styles, including jazz. Attend a performance and you will get a taste of some of Flatley's most signature trademark pieces, such as flute solos and enormous lines of dancers stepping in unbeatable precision.

Outside of dance, Flatley has taken part in trendy American dance shows, including participating as a seventh season judge on Dancing with the Stars, and hosting Superstars of Dance, which debuted in January of 2009. He is married to dancer Niamh O'Brien, who also has enjoyed a moderately successful singing career. The two had a son in 2007. Worth a fortune, Flatley enjoys homes in Barbados, France and London, as well as his hometown of Chicago. However, he also owns a home in Ireland, and is currently living there with his family.

Health Scares

Michael Flatley has reportedly survived skin cancer, and experienced a viral infection that ravaged his body in 2006. His sickness was kept under wraps from the media, but he was severely ill for quite some time and was forced to cancel a long string of Celtic Tiger shows.

However today he is reportedly on top of his game, planning new dance productions and continuing to move and create at a persistent pace. Though he is considered legendary within certain circles of the dance world, Flatley himself is still very much living in the moment, dreaming up new theatrical shows that will continue to touch and inspire audiences, raising up a new generation of dancers.

Was this page useful?
Michael Flatley Biography