The Irish dance phenomenon known as "Riverdance" still lives on nearly 22 years after its creation. Today, it stands as a production larger than life, having toured all over the world introducing Irish dance to people who would have never thought they'd love it so much. But behind the delightful music, complex choreography, and dazzling lights, there was one man who started it all: Michael Flatley.
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Michael started taking dance lessons at the young age of 11. His parents were both Irish immigrants, and his heritage has always been a part of his work. Michael's hard work and talent were finally realized at age 17 when he became the first American to ever win a title at the World Irish Dance Competition. On top of his accomplished dance career, Michael was also a skilled flutist and boxer. It only seems natural that this young man, so full of talent and pride in his heritage, would go on to create something like Riverdance, which combines all of his passions into one beautiful work of art.
The clip you're about to watch is Michael's final performance with Riverdance in 1995. Creative differences and money issues contributed to the producers' decision to cut Flatley from the show, making many fans view this as "The Final Performance of Riverdance." While he was immediately replaced by highly-skilled dancer Colin Dunne, Riverdance would never be the same.
Michael Flatley went on to create even more shows centered around Irish music and dance, most notably, "Lords of the Dance." In fact, Michael continued dancing until two days ago, March 18th, 2016, when he officially announced his retirement. The years of dancing took a massive toll on his body, and the only course of action seemed to be to step away from the stage. It was a bittersweet moment for fans and colleagues alike, but Michael's legacy will live on as the man who inspired a generation of people to love and appreciate Irish dance just as much as he did.