Michael Flatley is heading to Australia and New Zealand with his new production Dangerous Games and the Lord of the Dance was only too happy to answer some questions from the Starts at 60 community.
Tickets are now on sale for Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games but Mr Flatley will not be performing. After more than 20 years, he is hanging up his dancing shoes with his last performance to occur in London in July. This new show, which is created, directed and coreographed by Mr Flatley will include holographs, dancing robots, world champion acrobats and 34 of the greatest Irish dancers in the world.
Here Michael Flatley opens up about the next phase of his life, his eight-year-old son and how he has maintained the stamina to entertain more than 60 million people around the world.
One of our readers told us she read your book, she thinks you’re great and she wants to know, how are you?
Tell Philomena I’m firing on all cylinders. I feel great, I’m dancing well, working hard. I think we’re at prime time right now; I’m feeling great about life and great about everything.
How are your knees?
(laughs) They’re not good right now, but that doesn’t stop me! My body is beaten and battered and broken in many places: my spinal column is in bad shape, my T1 T5 C3 L5 and sacroiliac are all in a bad way right now and I have got a bit of a strain in a groin muscle. My left knee is particularly bad and I can feel the right one going too. I have a ruptured Achilles tendon and a broken bone in my right foot but other than that, I feel great.
How are you feeling about your last performance at Wembley (on July 4)?
I’m looking forward to it. I’ve got many friends coming over to see the show. Wembley is a great home for us, we’ve been there for many years, doing great things. We hold the world record at Wembley for 21 consecutive sell-out shows. To go back and finish my UK career there is a wonderful feeling.
Will you still dance?
I won’t be doing the stage performances anymore, that’s sad, but I don’t think my body can take such a beating any more. I’ve been touring for 20 years and it’s time to think about being careful. I want to still be able to walk in 10 years.
How do you maintain your health and energy?
I’m sort of an old fashioned kind of a guy. I work really hard, I get up early and I get outside a lot; I do a lot of outdoor walking. I try to watch what I eat – within reason, I don’t deny myself. I might go out on the weekend and have a big steak or and a couple of martinis. But during the week I work hard and keep active.
Where do you call home?
We have our castle in Cork but we don’t get there as often as we’d like to. That’s our main estate but my art and dance business is centred around London. I’ve had a home in London since 1996.
Are you American or Irish?
I feel I’m much more Irish than American. My parents were Irish born, my wife is Irish born, my son is Irish born and I’ve been living between London and Ireland for the past 25 years.
Why do Irish dancers keep their arms down?
We’ve tried for years to find out what the tradition is; we know it changed some time in the last couple of hundred years because we have located photos from the early 1800s where the dancers are using their arms. No one has ever given me the definitive answer but there has been much speculation.
Of course the dancers don’t keep their arms down in my shows. That was the thing I’ changed when I came into this all those years ago. In other shows they will keep their arms down but I believe you need to express yourself with your whole body. My whole dream was to take dance to the top of the world and make it appealing to a broader audience and to sell out the theatres, arenas and football stadiums all over the world. In order to do that I had to make it a little bit more show business, a bit more rock’n’roll and make it a bit of a spectacle, for which I’ve taken the blame from the more purist circles. But it has worked and more people are interested now in Irish Dance and I’m very proud of that.
Which is the best theatre to perform in?
Certainly Maddison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall in New York. In London, Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena and the London Palladium, which was one of my particular favourites. In Budapest, we did a football stadium outdoors… I could go on and on. But it’s about the people, it’s never really about the place.
Would you be happy if your son (who is eight years old) followed in your footsteps?
Yes, but I’ll be happy no matter what he decides to do. Whatever he has a passion for, whatever it is that he loves. He doesn’t have to do anything for me, I’ll support him in whatever he does and I’ll love him no matter what. And I think if more people in this world did what they loved every day then, probably, we’d have a lot less problems.
How do you feel about heading into your 60s
Well, I have a little way to go, but I love it. I think everyone who gets to their 60s should be proud they’ve made it that far. I think 60 is the new 30 and 80 is the new 50. I’m serious, I really think there’s way to much emphasis on how old you are. That’s nonsense. The older you are, the better you get, the wiser you get and you know what if you take care of your body, there’s no reason you can’t kee doing what you were doing when you were younger. Maybe not at the same level, but you can still enjoy life and everything we have in this beautiful world.
Please give a special kiss to all of your followers from me.
Hear Michael Flatley speak about moving into his 60s here:
Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Minds will tour to Auckland, Wellington, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane and Sydney. Details and ticket sale information here.
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