Michael Flatley, star of Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, and Feet of Flames, has revolutionized Irish dance, making it relevant all over the world.
I just always saw Irish dance differently. When I retired from competition I just knew the minute I was done that I would start trying new things that weren’t really allowed in competitions. I actually felt very restricted in competitions, so it was a good time to break out and go in different directions. I began doing lots of different shows, and so many people seemed to enjoy what I was doing that I just started to realize it really worked.
When I was growing up in Chicago there was a big Irish community, and when you’re going to school with all the different nationalities of the world and they’re all praising their own, it’s nice to know that we have roots to fall back on and be proud of. I’m very proud of mine – you only have to look around you to see what Irishmen are accomplishing all over the world. I grew up very proud of that and I’m still very proud of that. I think Riverdance was a milestone, and I think Lord of the Dance will go along with that. It will be a shame if, a hundred years from now, people look back and ask “What was your tradition in 1996?” and all we can say is “Well, we just followed the one from a hundred years before us.” We have a tradition but we have to add our own. It’s a responsibility – whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, we must always leave our mark. I always endeavor to do that, and to do it in my own particular way. We can maintain tradition – and I do respect that – but we must always leave our mark. – July 1996 ♦