DANCE superstar Michael Flatley (64) has made his first red-carpet appearance in Dublin tonight after revealing he is battling cancer and vowed: “I will beat this.”
Looking in fighting spirits, he put aside his recent health worries as he attended the Bord Gais Energy Theatre for the 25th anniversary of his Lord of the Dance stage show.
He arrived shortly after 7pm to huge cheers and almost caused a scrum among attendees as they called out his name and clamoured to get close to the superstar.
When asked how he was feeling, he told the Irish Independent: "I'm feeling good. I'm feeling strong. They didn't give me much of a chance in 1996 but I'm still standing. I'm a fighter and I'm not giving up here and I will beat this.”
Flatley made headlines globally last month after he revealed on his Instagram account how he had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
He had surgery and was in the care of an “excellent team of doctors” and asked for people’s prayers and well-wishes.
He updated his fans a week later to say how he was “on the mend” and had been released from hospital. He thanked everyone around the world for their support.
On his show tonight, he said: "Thank God we're still selling out. We're still standing. In the beginning, they didn't give us much of a chance but we're still here.
"I feel good, I definitely feel good on a night like tonight. All my dreams have come true, there really is a God.
"It's a fabulous experience to be sharing this night and be able to say ‘thank you' to Ireland and all of you have been supportive for 25 years and gave us a bit of a head start.
"We're going out there against the whole world with our Irish culture and thank you for standing behind us."
On watching his performers carry on his legacy, given that he has now retired, he said he was "absolutely thrilled".
"I'm overwhelmed, sometimes I wish I could still be out there but I've got too many miles on me. I’m so proud of the dancers out there tonight and what they're able to do," he said.
He also hinted there could be a sequel to his debut movie Blackbird in the offing.
"We've had a couple of offers and we'll see now in the next couple of months how I'm feeling. But once I get back training and a little bit more steady, anything's possible. But the good news is, I’ve been offered a couple of things."
His iconic Lord of the Dance stage show, which runs in Dublin until Saturday, debuted at the Point Theatre in July 1996. It has since been seen live by more than 60 million people in venues around the world and grossed €1bn to date, outselling bands such as U2 and the Rolling Stones.
Flatley released a video on the show’s milestone anniversary in 2021 where he said it celebrated the “magic of a place called Planet Ireland”.
"Planet Ireland is the name of the show's encore number. But it's also the name of the setting in which the show takes place. And the world of Planet Ireland is a living, breathing fantasy land, filled with heroes, villains, temptresses, clans, and realms yet undiscovered,” he said
"This is the story of an artist who took an obscure folk dance, created a new art form and genre of entertainment out of it, had it taken away from him, and fought back against impossible odds to even greater success.”
He added that it was the “story of a timeless drama, told through dance, about good versus evil and love versus lust”.
"It's a story that came from the mind of an 'uneducated' blue-collar construction worker,” he said.
"It's the story of literally thousands of artists, performers, and crew alike, whose adventures and memories all make up the tapestry of this saga, from the handpicked 1996 OG troupe dream team to the new generation of today.”
Born into a blue-collar Irish-American family in Chicago, he rose to fame when he led the Riverdance troupe in a seven-minute interval performance at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.
He branched out last year into the movie world with the release of Blackbird, which he wrote, produced and took on the leading role of an undercover spy.