“The Billion Dollar Dancer,” an in-depth documentary about the life of Irish dance phenom Michael Flatley, has been announced by Lorton Entertainment and Fine Point Films.
The film will follow Flatley, the son of Irish immigrants, from his “humble beginnings on Chicago’s South Side, through his career as the most successful dancer on the planet," Lorton Entertainment said on social media on September 26.
“From bullying to boxing, from fast cars to cancer, Flatley’s story is a rollercoaster ride of pinnacles and pitfalls,” the production company said.
The documentary will follow Flatley today as he oversees a 25th Anniversary Tour of his Irish dance show “Lord of the Dance” and launches a new show.
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“I’m proud to be able to share my story with the world,” Flatley said about the new documentary, according to Variety.
“It’s a peek under the hood at what it took to be where I am today.
“There were so many times growing up when I thought I had reached the end of the road, but the challenges made me who I am.
“More than anything, I want to inspire young people in all walks of life to never give up on their dreams.”
Director Ryan Suffern said: “As two Chicago boys with Southside ties, I could not be more thrilled to be making this documentary on Michael Flatley’s remarkable life.
“His story is truly an inspired one, and I’m grateful to be a part of bringing it to the screen.”
Julian Bird, CEO of Lorton Entertainment, added: “We are thrilled to be working with Michael Flatley on his fascinating and inspiring story.
"At Lorton we have been privileged to work on amazing stories with global icons and we are looking forward showing the world the real Michael Flatley.”
The announcement of Flatley's new documentary comes just a few months after Flatley announced "DanceLord," a six-part biopic drama series.
EXCITING NEWS! https://variety.com/2023/tv/global/lord-of-the-dance-michael-flatley-drama-biopic-1235638553/ ...Posted by Michael Flatley on Monday, June 12, 2023
Who is Michael Flatley?
Michael Flatley is largely credited with helping launch Irish dance into the mainstream in the 1990s.
He was born in Chicago in 1958 to Irish parents - his father Michael James Flatley was from Co Sligo and his mother Elisabeth 'Eilish' Flatley (née Ryan,) also a talented Irish dancer, was from Co Carlow.
At 11 years old, Flatley began lessons with the Dennehy School of Irish Dance in Chicago, and at age 17, he became the first-ever American to win a World Irish Dance title at An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha's (CLRG's) Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne.
In 1994, after touring for a period with The Chieftains, Flatley helped create the seven-minute interval program "Riverdance" for the Eurovision Song Contest. The performance, which aired from Dublin on April 30, 1994 and featured him and Jean Butler as the principal Irish dancers, was an instant hit, and in February 1995, "Riverdance: The Show" debuted at The Point in Dublin.
Later in 1995, Flatley left "Riverdance" to pursue his own show "Lord of the Dance," which premiered in Dublin in June 1996. The show continues to tour today with a new generation of Irish dancers.
In 1998, Flatley debuted "Feet of Flames" which embarked on a world tour in 2000, and in 2005, he unveiled "Celtic Tiger."
Aside from Irish dance, Flatley is a talented flutist and boxer and his upcoming biopic isn't his first brush with the big screen - in 2022, his debut film "Blackbird," which he wrote, directed, and starred in, was finally released.
Flatley maintains connections with CLRG and this year sponsored a first-of-its-kind Freestyle Dance Award competition at the World Irish Dancing Championships.