Michael Flatley, Dancer, Choreographer, Musician and Artist

You have got to follow what’s in your heart. If more people did what they love every day there would be a lot less trouble in the world.

Michael Flatley, Dancer, Choreographer, Musician and Artist

I’m a perfectionist and a workaholic. I am always trying to please everyone and of course that is not possible.

I always wanted to be on stage. Since I was a little boy, I have always been creating things.

Other than following a career in dance, I might have been a flautist. I did enjoy amateur boxing, but I knew I wanted a more creative lifestyle.

Growing up, I was very shy.

My earliest memory of dancing is when I was 11. I was dragged to the dance class and I hated every minute of it, but soon I realised I had a talent for it and I began to enjoy it. I suppose there’s a lesson in that: don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

If you love what you do then work is not work. I work hard and I play hard and I’m blessed to have the most beautiful family in the world who support me in everything that I do.

I am extremely disciplined. Boxing and dancing have both taught me a lot about hard work, determination, perseverance and discipline.

Every day is different when you are on the road, there is just so much to do, sometimes I just can’t keep up. When I’m home I try to run every morning, I watch what I eat and I thank God for everything I have every day. My painting is a deep passion. It started many years ago. I walked into the National Gallery in Dublin and saw the Caravaggio. I was stunned and I’ve never been the same since.

I performed at Madison Square Garden in NY in 2001 and the crew sent me a piece of the stage as a memento. It has hundreds of tap marks from the shows I had done. I framed it and hung it on the wall. It wasn’t until months later when I was showing it to guests that it occurred to me, it was a piece of art.

I love the work of Jackson Pollock, Kandinski, Rothko and many of the Abstract Expressionists. I love colour and expression.

I thought, Picasso, Miro, de Kooning, they paint a piece and it lasts forever. I have to dance my art every night live! If there was a way that I could dance on canvas, I could transform a 3D performance into a 2D work of art, it would live forever. It worked. It was another outlet for my creativity but not nearly as confining as the dance. And so my career in art was born and now I can’t live without it.

The best advice I ever received was: never give in. And don’t listen to negative people. The trait I most admire in other people is integrity. My idea of happiness is Sunday brunch with the family.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day. that would have to be Marcus Aurelius. I’m definitely a lark, not an owl. I love walking in the park early in the morning when there is a light mist still in the air especially in the autumn when it is fresh and crisp.

I do believe in life after death. Marcus Tullius Cicero once said “At our end we don’t expire, we merely change places”.

The biggest challenge in life so far has been believing in myself. Believing that I am good enough just the way I am.

Life has taught me people are more important than things, that a good friend is more important than a hundred business partners. Reading a good book is better than any television. A peaceful walk in the country beats 5th Avenue any day. And that innocence is the most beautiful and rare thing in the world.

I am very much looking forward to performing in Dublin and Belfast again and taking the new showback to the West End next March. I have got such great Irish talent in my show, I’m so proud of them. I want to give them all a chance to be stars. If God is with us we will hit Broadway by the end of next year.

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games will premiere in Ireland at the 3 Arena, Dublin on March 27, 2014 (see www.ticketmaster.com ). One of his paintings, “Rossmore Island”, goes under the hammer at the upcoming Sheppard Irish Auction on December 4

More in this section

Click and connect: 100 places in Munster to shop locally this Christmas


We want to help you to connect with the people you love, but may not see, this Christmas.  Every Saturday, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will publish your messages in print and online, starting November 28.

Say it here, in the Irish Examiner.