Saturday 24 September 2016

Michael Flatley: 'My body has taken a severe beating from dancing' as he prepares for final show

Philip Ryan in Washington

Published 17/03/2016 | 13:47

Niamh and Michael Flatley
Niamh and Michael Flatley

Michael Flatley was honoured with an Arts and Humanities Award from a philanthropic organisation last night.

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The Lord of the Dance star received the accolade from the American Ireland Fund at a gala in Washington.

Mr Flatley said his body has taken a “severe beating” as he prepares to retire from dancing today.

Speaking as he received the award, Mr Flatley said he has given “every last drop” of what he has to dancing ahead of his final performance in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas tonight.

“It has been a great 20 years, I finish tomorrow. I would like to think the good times have outweighed the bad time but sometimes I wonder. My body has taken a severe beating,” he said.

Mr Flatley, 58, said he had both his shoulders replaced and his knees, while he also needs  “a lot of work” on his spine.

“It's been severe but I wouldn't trade it for the world,” he added.

He also paid tribute to his parents who he said he would be “nothing without”.

“I think it’s maybe the greatest honour that anyone could have to be thought of so highly by their own. For me to be thought of so highly by all of you, it means the world to me.

“I wish my father could be here tonight, he was a Sligo man. Sadly he passed away a year ago last Sunday. My mother just turned 80 and she could not make the trip.”

“My mother is from Carlow and they came to the United States from Ireland in 1947 with nothing, and they worked so hard. Two Irish people in America, they worked day and night for us. I would have nothing, I would be nothing without my parents, and whatever award I get in my lifetime, in particular this one, it’s for them.”

The Riverdance star said it was a great honour to bring his tours to the four corners of the globe.

“We have sold out every major venue from Tokyo to Texas and from Mexico to Moscow,” he added

“We have entertained people from all over the world and I'm proud to say I brought the tricolour with me everywhere.

“As I finish tomorrow night in Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas I can honestly say hand on heart in front of God I have given every last drop of what I have to my art and to Ireland.”

Also on the night, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan presented his predecessor John Boehner with a Leadership Award.

Senator Tim Kaine and US union chief Terry O’Sullivan also received awards.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was scheduled to speak at the event but could not attend due to European Union meetings.

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