Michael Flatley, the Irish American Irish dance superstar, recently opened up about his recent cancer diagnosis as well as Irish dancing in a wide-ranging interview with the UK Times.
“I know that it’s going to be a tough task and it’s going to be a long fight, but that’s OK,” Flatley told the UK publication about his cancer diagnosis.
“I’m ready for it, and I thank God every day for the things that I do have.
“I’m confident in the end that I’ll be successful in getting past this.”
In January, Flatley’s team announced on social media that the 64-year-old had undergone surgery after being “diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.”
About a week later, Flatley said that he had been released from the hospital and that he was “on the mend.”
While it is unclear what type of cancer Flatley is being treated for, he previously revealed that he underwent treatment for malignant melanoma in 2003.
Flatley, a native of Chicago, is the first-ever American to have won An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha's (CLRG's) World Irish Dancing Championship. He's largely credited with launching Irish dance into the mainstream after starring in "Riverdance" and creating the smash hit Irish dance shows "Lord of the Dance" and "Feet of Flames."
Despite the cancer diagnosis, there appear to be no signs of slowing down for Flatley.
Earlier this month, Flatley, who primarily lives in Monte Carlo, was in Montreal, Canada for CLRG’s 2023 World Irish Dancing Championships where he unveiled a new ‘freestyle’ competition, described as "a way to stimulate creativity and expression in Irish dance, without restrictions of arm movements, music, and theatrics."
“It was fantastic, I’m over the moon with the response,” Flatley told The Times of his new Freestyle Dance Award.
“The competition was fierce and it was nice to see Irish dancing moving to a new level.
"We’ve changed Irish dancing forever, again. It’s just a wonderful feeling to see the young people interpreting music in a different way, being able to use their upper body movement, their arms, their acting skills, and dancing to a storyline.”
Irish dancers Dara McAleer and Liam Costello were named the winners of the inaugural competition.
Did you have fun watching the 'Michael Flatley's Freestyle Dance' competition?
Blown away with all the amazing talent on show, and congratulations to our winners Dara McAleer & Liam Costello! 🏆#MichaelFlatley #FreestyleDanceAward
Photo Credit: Tom Gregory Shamrock Photo. pic.twitter.com/f8molZBV80— Lord of the Dance (@lordofthedance) April 12, 2023
CLRG’s World Irish Dancing Championships were hosted this year in the wake of the so-called ‘feis-fixing’ scandal that erupted back in October.
Flatley previously said he was "disappointed" about the scandal, but still believes that there are "great, great" people within CLRG.
When asked if the scandal would damage Irish dance’s reputation, Flatley told The Times: “I think that would be a real shame because what I saw [in Montreal] was so beautifully presented.
“The young dancers are really so fabulous, and they work so hard to get where they are.”
He added: “The last thing we can afford is for any damage to the reputation of Irish culture and dance globally.
“I am confident that the dance commission will sort this out in short order and make it better for the young kids coming through and coming forward.”
He continued: “It’s important that the children are the focus, that the young people are the focus. We have to make sure that they get their fair shake. Every one of them deserves to be a champion — they work so hard and they deserve every drop of sincerity.”