Though he long ago left Riverdance after a dispute with the producers over creative control, and went on to create the phenomenally successful Lord of the Dance, make no mistake about it – Michael Flatley says that he’s the one who originally brought Riverdance to life in the first place.
“When I created Riverdance, no one had seen anything like it before because it came from inside me,” Flatley told the Birmingham Mail last week. That might come as news to the original producer Moya Doherty, who was commissioned by Irish broadcaster RTE to create the piece for the Eurovision song contest back in 1994 that eventually morphed into the full-length show, but there’s no doubt that Flatley’s electrifying performance catapulted Riverdance into a global force that’s still going strong to this day.
Flatley, who turns 52 next month, is avidly prepping for another stage comeback this fall, when he’ll tour Europe as the star of his baby, Lord of the Dance. Some might say that the jig is up for Flatley, that he should enjoy his millions and leave the dancing to the younger guys. But that’s not happening, and he’s been working out like a maniac to get back into top shape.
“There’s no way to explain the feeling, when I’m on stage leading that show. It gives me goose bumps, it raises the hair on the back of my neck, it’s just an incredible feeling,” he says.
“Make no mistake, Lord of the Dance is still the greatest dance show in the world. I think we’re going to bring the house down.”
Fans of LOTD, which still maintains two companies that tour the world, will see an updated version of the show when Michael takes the stage that stays true to the basics.
“It’s not unlike going to see the Rolling Stones,” he said. “People like to see the hit numbers, so I will give them the classic Lord of the Dance show, but with a new look and flavor they may not be expecting. I’m raring to go.”
Undoubtedly tagging along for the European tour, which begins in Belfast at the end of October and continues into December, will be Michael’s wife Niamh, a former dancer with his troupe, and their son Michael, who recently turned three. The partying days of his bachelorhood are well and truly over, Michael says.
“I used to be just getting home at 6 a.m. Now I wake up then with him jumping up and down on my belly, shouting ‘Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse!’. He also loves Thomas the Tank Engine,” says Michael.
“He’s wonderful, such a blessing. I’d love more children but it’s in the hands of the gods. If it was up to me, I’d spoil him rotten. Luckily his mother has a lot more sense than me and tempers things. I just can’t stop kissing him and our favorite things at the moment are tickling matches.”
Michael Junior will certainly enjoy the finer things in life, including, if his parents have their way, an education in England’s top schools.
“My wife is dying to send him to Hill House, one of the top schools in London, and hopefully on to Eton,” says Michael, who also told the British paper that he’s a huge fan of Prince Charles.
“He should take more of a leadership role in the world. He has more brains and makes more sense than all of them put together,” he says.
“He gets it, he has respect for everybody and is incredibly intelligent. What a remarkable man, he’s world class.”