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Michael Flatley

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“Follow your dreamsnothing is impossible”



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Introduction

This is as the picture above says “The incredible life story of one of the world’s most popular performers”. Yes this is the world’s most popular performers of step dance; he is the best step dancer in the world actually. I admire him because of his courage and his powerful will. By working at a bar for a couple of bucks an hour he became through dance soon the best step dancer and he was earning more money than he could imagine. Of course the money was invested in other shows and programs that he and his crew could perform around the whole world, for us to see and admire the talent and hard work put by him and his crew, apparently some usual people but with a gift of dancing as others would only dream.

1.)       Biography

Michael Flatley's path to stardom proves what the human spirit can accomplish when relentless drive and determination converge with dreams. His long and arduous journey from construction worker on Chicago 's South Side to one of the world's most accomplished and innovative artists alive today is an inspiration to all who face overwhelming obstacles and challenges along the road to success.

'Everyone in the world will tell you, 'No, it can't be done.' Every time I hear that, I know I'm close to success.'

Born July 16, 1958 , Michael is the second of five children. He has a brother and three sisters. His parents, Michael and Eilish, emigrated from Ireland in 1947 and settled in Chicago , Illinois , where they established a successful construction business. Michael credits his father with instilling in him the tireless work ethic and extraordinary drive that empowered him in his quest to transform dreams into reality.

'I can go back to when I was six years old. I was always getting in trouble for dreaming, and the things I got in trouble for dreaming then are the things I'm doing today.'

Dance was in his blood. Though Michael was born and raised in the United States , he often visited family in Ireland . His mother and his maternal grandmother, Hannah Ryan, were both champion Irish dancers. Hannah taught Michael his first few steps at the age of four and always encouraged him to follow his heart and his dreams. Years later, when these dreams became reality, an empty front row seat at every show marked his silent tribute to the late grandmother he so adored.

'She once visited me in Chicago in an ice cold winter. At that time I was completely broke, working occasional jobs for a couple of bucks an hour, dreaming of becoming the greatest dancer in the world. It was she who encouraged me to make my life special and to dance. Two weeks later she died. The empty seat is a sign of my respect to her, for I believe she is still watching me.'

Michael's parents were committed to retaining their children's Irish heritage, so at age 11 Michael was 'dragged by the ears'   to Irish dance class. He was sent home after being told he was too old, but Michael persisted. Not only because 'there were lots of pretty girls in class,”   he confesses with a grin, but also because he could not let a challenge go unanswered. Surpassing his classmates in winning competitions, 17-year-old Michael became the first American to bring the title of All-World Irish Dancing Champion to the US . At the same time Michael studied traditional Irish flute and won the first of several titles as All-Ireland Flute Champion. His destiny and his dreams were beginning to merge.

C:Documents and SettingsAdministratorDesktopFlute.gif “I love the flute because it's the one instrument in the world where you can feel your own breath. I can feel my breath with my fingers. It's as if I'm speaking from my soul; when I'm making a note, it's                   the closest thing to singing to me.'

Following high school graduation, Michael opened an Irish dance school. Although 300 students anxiously awaiting enrollment exceeded his expectations, Michael was not fulfilled. His calling to perform eclipsed his desire to teach. Eventually he closed the school and took his first steps toward building an unprecedented career -- the world's first internationally recognized professional Irish dancer. While supporting himself as a construction worker, he took every opportunity to dance in front of an audience. His first real break came with a call from the world famous Chieftains, a traditional Irish band. While touring with them during the 1980's, Michael used audience reaction as a barometer to gauge the impact of his ever-evolving vision of Irish dance. In his pursuit to push boundaries and recapture the passion of his heritage, Michael gradually liberated Irish dance from generations of rigidity, incorporating arm movement and heart-stopping rhythm into traditional steps. Standing ovations at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl convinced Michael that his innovative style moved people and excited audiences.

'To tell the truth, I think I could do anything on stage, but dance happens to be my medium. It's bliss. It's what I came to this planet for.'

In 1993, Michael was invited to dance at the Spirit of Mayo in Dublin, a unique festival of Irish dance and music. The audience included Irish President Mary Robinson, and Michael's brilliant performance caught the attention of the show's producers. He was subsequently commissioned to create an interval act for the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.

C:Documents and SettingsAdministratorDesktopriverdance pic.jpgRiverdance   was born April 30, 1994 -- the culmination of everything Michael had been striving to perfect through all his years of touring. That seven-minute breath of fresh air simultaneously electrified thousands at the Point Theatre in Dublin and a television audience of millions. The surge of energy released by the fusion of Ireland’s history and Michael's vision propelled Irish dance into worldwide attention and made Michael Flatley a star overnight. In an effort to satisfy the international clamor for more, the original centerpiece was further developed into a full-length show. It opened to critical acclaim at Dublin’s Point Theatre in February of 1995 and continued on to a successful London run. But by October fate took a hand and Michael left the show amid great controversy.

'Life isn't about the number of times you're knocked down; it's about the number of times you get back up.'

Michael's sudden, unexpected departure from Riverdance presented him with a choice that would alter the entire course of his career. He could keep the money he had earned and go home to probable anonymity, or redefine his future. His choice became apparent when just 11 days after leaving that show he began choreographing, producing, and directing his own production, Lord of the Dance  -- a venture for which he risked all his personal financial resources. 

'I believe in myself, believe in everything that's positive, so I don't let any negative energy come into my life to the best of my ability -- that's the best way to carry on. There are no limitations, no rules. If you believe it, you can do it. You can do anything . . . Nothing is impossible.'

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Michael was adamant that Lord of the Dance   was 'an Irish show that had to be born out of Ireland,” and  on July 2, 1996 , Lord of the  Dance   premiered at the Point Theatre in Dublin . Audiences and critics couldn't get enough, calling it 'powerful', 'fantastic', 'electrifying', 'spellbinding', and 'an  awesome  sight'.

 It was an instant success, playing to sold-out venues, receiving standing ovations, and eventually setting records all over the world. In the UK the show sold out four consecutive weeks at the Coliseum in London and set an all time record for a run of 21 shows at London 's legendary Wembley Arena.

The American debut of Lord of the Dance   at Radio City Music Hall sold out thirteen consecutive nights, and a stunning performance by Michael and his troupe was one of the highlights of that year's Academy Awards ceremony, watched by 2.5 billion viewers worldwide.

Lord of the Dance   was the top grossing live show in both the US and Australia in 1997, and the video went platinum in the United States , Australia , and the UK .

'You're out on stage, the music is blaring, the crowd is screaming, the lights are flashing, your heart is pumping, the sweat is flying, and it's the greatest feeling in the whole world.'

From Dublin Michael took the show to Liverpool and Manchester , where he faced what could have been a fatal blow to the show and to his career -- a torn calf muscle. Doctors advised Michael to stay off the leg for at least six weeks, but the opening at London 's Coliseum was only four days away. Against all advice, Michael refused to give up. He had his therapist wrap the injury and danced through the pain on opening night in London .



'You can take as much as your mind can trick you into believing you can take. It proved to me that nothing could stop me. The most important thing is that you believe in yourself and keep on going.'

C:Documents and SettingsAdministratorDesktop630516603X.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpgMichael starred in his final performance of Lord of the Dance at Dublin 's RDS arena on June 28, 1998 . On July 25, 1998 , he took that artistic rendition to the next level and presented the 'turbo-charged'   version, the spectacular Feet of Flames ,  to an audience of 25,000 on the historic Route of Kings in London 's Hyde Park .

A specially engineered four-tiered stage showcased over 100 dancers, new music and dance numbers, a full band and chorus, plus his spellbinding a cappella solo. As the largest seated show ever to be performed in England , it was also the biggest, most visually dazzling dance show ever staged. The Feet of Flames   video, taped live that evening, went platinum the world over.

'Think of the thing that gives you goose bumps, then do it!'

After the Hyde Park show, Michael took a well-deserved hiatus from touring, but not from living his 'follow  your dreams'   philosophy. He spent that year developing new Lord of the Dance   troupes, bringing one to Disneyworld's Epcot Center in Orlando , Florida , during the summers of 1999 and 2000.

Soon Michael's adoring public demanded more, and he was persuaded to tour with a thrilling new version of Feet of Flames   throughout Europe and the United States . In September 1999, Michael announced details of his new Feet of Flames   2000 World Tour in a spectacular one-off launch event by emerging from the depths of a flaming lake on the picturesque grounds of Satsvey Castle in Southern Germany .

During the summer of 2000, Michael played to over four million people in Western Europe and performed before an audience of over 100,000 in Budapest , Hungary . The last show of the European leg, a spectacular finale at Stormont in Belfast , Northern Ireland , proved that hearts united through music and dance pay no heed to historical boundaries. His most recent video release, entitled Gold, chronicles Michael's astonishing career and includes many scenes shot during the Belfast and Budapest shows.

Wherever he took Feet of Flames , Michael was met with enthusiastic audiences and standing ovations. Beginning in June of 2001, Michael brought his Feet of Flames , The Victory Tour , to 20 American cities. The highlight of the tour was the fulfillment of Michael's dream to perform at New York 's Madison Square Garden . All who were fortunate enough to get a ticket said Michael was truly at the pinnacle of his art.

'Since I was a kid, I've been a dancer, and, of course, I'll always be a dancer till the day I die.'

Michael's achievements and awards are countless, including entries in the Guinness Book of World Records for tap dancing speed, highest paid dancer, and highest insurance premium placed on a dancer's legs - a mind-boggling $40,000,000. He exceeded his first tap speed record of 28 taps per second, set in 1989, by executing a phenomenal speed of 35 taps per second in 1998 at the age of 39.

'I think it is important to keep challenging yourself. That's what keeps me going.'

When Michael announced his retirement from touring in June 2001, fans from all corners of the globe gathered for his final performance in Dallas , Texas on July 29, 2001 . But true to form, Michael had no intention of retiring from creating and following his dreams. Instead he plunged into his role as creative director, planning and devising new shows and future productions with which to tour the world. Working on ideas and innovations sure to capture the imagination of his global audiences, he began searching for new dancing talent to stage his creations and continue to thrill audiences worldwide.

During 2002 Michael saw Lord of the Dance   continue to grow and prosper playing to audiences around the world. With one troupe resident in Las Vegas , Nevada and two international troupes on the road, the production returned to tour again in Australia , Germany , France , and across the USA . As the curtain fell on an exciting four-year residency at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where over 2,000,000 people saw the show, the curtain rose on a new deal.

Once again Lord of the Dance   broke new ground with stunning performances in Lebanon , Ukraine , Finland , and Russia . Michael witnessed a spectacular series of sold-out performances by Troupe One at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow each night that included many Russian and international dignitaries. A few days later the show thrilled audiences in St. Petersburg and while in Russia , Michael announced his plans to establish a series of international dance academies in major cities around the world, the first of which opened in Moscow .

'It has always been my dream and ambition to introduce Irish dancing to the world.'

The year finished on a high note with a phenomenal run of shows by Troupe One at Disneyland Paris.

The accolades and excitement for Michael and Lord of the Dance   continued throughout 2003. In March, Michael received the prestigious Irish American of the Year Award from Irish America Magazine for his outstanding commitment and dedication to Irish dance and Irish culture worldwide and two months later he returned to the stage for the first of two very special performances.

In May, Michael and his dancers performed for 50 world leaders at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin at the 300th Anniversary Celebration of St Petersburg, Russia. A few weeks later, in August, Michael and his troupe delighted guests at the annual Red Cross Charity Ball with a one-hour special performance of Lord of the Dance   where His Serene Highness Prince Albert presented Michael with a Grimaldi Dynasty Award Medal for his contribution to the world of dance.

While on Safari in Africa in September, Michael received a very special request for a meeting from the legendary Nelson Mandela where t he former president honored him as the biggest selling artist in South African history and presented him with an original numbered copy of his book, Long Walk to Freedom. Later that month, Lord of the Dance   returned to London for a spectacular run of shows at the Apollo Hammersmith Theatre. After a stunning opening night performance by Troupe One, Sir Cliff Richard presented Michael with a silver salver to commemorate the achievement of $500,000,000 in Lord of the Dance ticket sales worldwide.

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In October, at the Celtic Ball held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York , Michael received an award from the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the USA (ICCUSA) for his outstanding contribution to the Arts and Entertainment and Lord of the Dance   celebrated its fifth sensational year in Las Vegas . On the evening of October 11, at an after - show celebration, Tony Award Winner Ben Vereen presented Michael with awards from the offices of both Mayor Goodman and Governor Kenny Guinn. Saturday, October 11, was proclaimed 'Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance Day'   in the city of Las Vegas and Clark County by Mayor Oscar Goodman, and declared 'Michael Flatley Day'   in the state of Nevada by Gov. Kenny Guinn.

The year 2004 proved to be another banner year for Michael and Lord of the Dance .  In January, Michael was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the University College Dublin Law Society and in February another Lord of the Dance troupe made its stunning debut in Italy and continued on to South Africa and then throughout the United Kingdom.Michael has not only achieved his ambition of taking Irish dancing to another dimension. He continues to prove that hearts and minds united through the universal language of music and dance cross all traditional boundaries. His accomplishments were recognized by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) and May 15, 2004 he was awarded the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor. Each year, the NECO gives Ellis Island awards to ethnic Americans from all backgrounds who have made valuable professional and patriotic contributions. This award pays tribute to those who have preserved the distinct values and heritage of their ancestors and built bridges between people from all cultural backgrounds.     On July 9, 2005 in Budapest , Hungary Michael unveiled Celtic Tiger ,   his most controversial and innovative C:Documents and SettingsAdministratorDesktopctiger02.jpgproduction yet. Celtic Tiger ,   an epic masterpiece that fuses the spirit and history of Ireland with music and dance is the fulfillment of a life-long ambition, showcasing Irish dance as a dynamic, powerful art form. Celtic Tiger    premiered in the US on September 27, 2005 at Madison Square Garden where Michael and his troupe gave the audience a stunning performance that received five standing ovations and many great reviews.




Michael's unprecedented career as a creator, dancer, choreographer, and producer is proof positive of his 'follow your dreams'   philosophy. One of his most fulfilling achievements is paving the way for young Irish dancers to have the opportunity to make a living doing 'what they love to do'. His ardent resolve has opened the door for future generations and provided a viable foundation upon which they can build and showcase their talents.

Michael is committed to his art and to bringing his audiences, Òthe  world's  greatest  dance  showÓ.   Through his company, Unicorn Entertainment Inc., Michael is planning many exciting new projects including movies and television.

Michael himself would say,

'Fasten your seatbelts.'

2.)       Awards & Honors

 

1975

At the age of 17, Michael became the first American in history to win the World Championships for Irish Dance, thus crowning a competitive Irish dancing career in which he won 168 consecutive first place dance championships in competitions worldwide.

He won the first of his All-Ireland Flute Championships. More would follow on the road to becoming a celebrated flautist.

1981

Michael released his first flute album which included three original compositions as well as traditional Irish melodies.

 

1983

Michael began touring as a featured performer with The Chieftains, a world famous traditional Irish band.

1987

Michael was the recipient of the prestigious Master of Dance Award for his exceptional contribution to the art of dance.

 

1988

Michael became the youngest person in history to be awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from President Ronald Reagan and the National Endowment for the Arts, recognizing him as one of America's greatest living artists.

 

1989

Setting his first world record for tap dancing speed at an astonishing 28 taps per second, Michael was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records on May 9.

 

1991

Michael was declared a living treasure by the National Geographic Society and was featured in an article in the January issue of National Geographic Magazine, titled Masters of Traditional Arts.

 

1993

Michael was invited to dance at the Spirit of Mayo in Dublin, a unique festival of Irish Dance and music. The audience included Irish President Mary Robinson.

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1994

Michael was the principal star and choreographer of Riverdance,   the featured highlight of the Eurovision Song Contest seen by over 300 million television viewers worldwide.

 

1995

 Riverdance   was expanded to a full-length production and Michael became a super-star receiving critical acclaim from all quarters.

 

1996

July 2, Michael premiered his own show, Lord of the Dance,  at The Point in Dublin, Ireland. The show set live performance and video sales records all over the world. In Australia 250,000 tickets sold out in 10 days.

 

1997

In March, Lord of the Dance   hit the US with 13 consecutive sold out performances at Radio City Music Hall.

Michael and the Lord of the Dance   troupe performed live at the Academy Awards show in Hollywood seen by over 2.5 billion people worldwide.

Chicago's Mayor Daley declared April 4, 1997 'Michael Flatley Day' in the City of Chicago.

In December, the Irish Entertainment Awards bestowed on Michael their Performance of the Year Award for Lord of the Dance.

      1998

After 390 performances in the title role of Lord of the Dance,   Michael took his art to a new level with Feet of Flames.   First staged in front of an audience of over 25,000 people on July 25, in Hyde Park, in London's historic Route of Kings, Feet of Flames is the largest, most extravagant dance show ever produced.

The Feet of Flames   and Lord of the Dance   videos are two of the biggest selling performance videos of all time. They spent a staggering 51 weeks at the top of the German music video charts and 40 weeks in the number two position.

In February, Michael broke his own Guinness Book record by achieving an amazing 35 taps per second.



Lord of the Dance   performed a record-breaking run of 21 shows at the legendary Wembley Arena in London.

In March, The Late Late Show aired a tribute to Michael on National Irish Television where he received a specially commissioned Waterford crystal statue in his own image.

1999

Michael was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the highest paid dancer earning $1,600,000 per week and for having the highest insurance premium placed on a dancer's legs at $40,000,000.

In December in New York City, Hilary Clinton presented Michael with the Outstanding Irish-American of the Century award.      

2000

In March, Michael took Feet of Flames   to Europe performing before sold-out crowds including a performance before 100,000 people in Budapest, Hungary. Michael was again acknowledged as the highest paid dancer by the Guinness Book of World Records.

2001

In January, Michael was awarded Germany's top Music Video Prize for Feet of Flames,   which has sold over 450,000 copies. He also collected a trophy for sales in excess of 9 times platinum.

In March, President Clinton presented Michael with the Irish-America Lifetime Achievement Award.

In June Michael brought Feet of Flames,   The Victory Tour to the US thrilling his US fans and fulfilling his dream of performing before a sold out audience at Madison Square Garden.

In December, Michael was the guest of honor at the annual Christmas luncheon given by the Variety Club of Great Britain. There he received an award from the Irish Dancing Commission appointing him the first Fellow of An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha with an Honorary Higher Diploma in recognition of his services to Irish Dancing. The Irish Dancing Teachers' Association of North America also presented him with a silver platter making him a lifetime member.

      2003

March 14, at The Plaza Hotel in New York, Michael received the prestigious Irish American of the Year award from Irish America Magazine for his outstanding commitment and dedication to Irish dance and Irish culture worldwide.

May 31, Michael performed for world leaders at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin at the 300th Anniversary Celebration of St Petersburg, Russia. The gala was attended by 50 world leaders including US President George W. Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and China's Head of State, Jiang Zemin.

August 8, Michael staged a special performance with his dancers to benefit the Red Cross of Monaco. The annual Red Cross Ball takes place at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club where this year, His Serene Highness Prince Albert presented Michael with a Grimaldi Dynasty Award Medal for his contribution to the world of dance.

September 9, Michael met with the legendary Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The former president, who personally requested the meeting, honored Michael as the biggest selling artist in South African history and presented him with an original numbered copy of his book, Long Walk to Freedom.

September 29, after a spectacular opening night performance by Troupe One at the Apollo Hammersmith Theatre in London, Sir Cliff Richard presented Michael with a silver salver to commemorate the achievement of $500,000,000 in Lord of the Dance   ticket sales worldwide.

October 8, at the Celtic Ball held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Michael received an award from the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the USA (ICCUSA) for his outstanding contribution to the Arts and Entertainment.

October 11, Lord of the Dance   celebrated its fifth sensational year in Las Vegas. At an after-show celebration, Tony Award Winner Ben Vereen presented Michael with awards from the offices of both Mayor Goodman and Governor Kenny Guinn. Saturday, October 11, was proclaimed 'Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance Day'   in the city of Las Vegas and Clark County by Mayor Oscar Goodman, and declared 'Michael Flatley Day'   in the state of Nevada by Gov. Kenny Guinn.

      2004

January 15, Michael was awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the University College Dublin Law Society.

May 15, Michael received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor in New York. Each year, the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations (NECO) gives Ellis Island awards to ethnic Americans from all backgrounds who have made valuable professional and patriotic contributions. The awards pay tribute to those who have preserved the distinct values and heritage of their ancestors.

October 30, Michael was honored at the annual Wild Geese Celtic Ball in Stamford, Connecticut for his outstanding achievements in promoting and preserving Irish culture and heritage. Previous honorees include President Mary McAleese of the Republic of Ireland; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, playwright Brian Friel, poet Seamus Heaney and traditional Irish musician Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains.

November 3 - The national university of Ireland University College Dublin (UCD) awarded Mr. Michael Flatley an Honorary Doctorate in law as part of the University College Dublin’s 150th anniversary celebrations. Michael was recognized for his contribution to the arts.

      2007

In October, Michael received the 'Spirit of Ireland' award from the Irish Arts Center in New York, for his support and promotion of Irish arts and culture, and in recognition of his 'achievements  and  true  legacy  of  introducing  Irish dance  to  the  world.'   Other well known attendees included Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne and Liam Neeson.

The Freedom of the City of Cork was conferred on Michael Flatley at a ceremony in City Hall on June 2, in recognition of 'his  achievements  as  a  world  class  performer  and  a person  of  outstanding  artistic  talent.'   Past recipients include President John F. Kennedy, President Mary McAleese, John Hume and Roy Keane.

      2008

On February 25, Michael Flatley was honoured with the Freedom of Sligo. The award was presented by Mayor Jonathan McGoldrick at a VIP ceremony at City Hall.

 

C:Documents and SettingsAdministratorMy DocumentsImage898_2.jpgConclusion :

In conclusion , Michael Flatley is a man who knows what he’s doing and who knows what he wants , I admire him for his courage and bravery of putting his life , his money and his career on the line of duty shall I say , by making, putting a good or even better show all the time with his talent and his performers dragging along his side. He was talented form the beginning of his youth and became even more talented by exploring his talents and taking them to the edge. His success is due to his hard work and the many hours put in the shows and rehearsal day after day, night after night, sleepless nights and of course hard work , because there is no success without hard work.

He lives for the people who come to see him, he lives for the moments that take your breath away and when he sees so many people cheer, applaud him and wanting another round of shows is incredible. People do not lack strength , they lack will that is my opinion for those who are afraid to do what they would like to and they rather do something easy or give up when it is too hard for them.

You just have to follow your dreams and try to make the best of what you can do , pushing the limits to the edge of your hardest things that seem impossible but they in fact are really possible.

 

Bibliography :

http://www.michaelflatley.com/home.cfm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Flatley

-Lord of the Dance (Paperback) by Douglas Thompson

-Lord of the Dance: My Story (Hardcover) by Michael Flatley

Publisher: Touchstone (both of the books)








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