Michael Ryan Flatley (born 16 July 1958 in the USA) is an American step dancer, writer, flautist, choreographer and occasional television presenter who became internationally known through his theatre musicals, Riverdance, Lord of the Dance and others. He shot to fame during the interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.
From the south side of Chicago, his parents were from County Sligo and County Carlow. Flatley began dancing lessons at 11 and, in 1969, became the first non-European resident to win the All-Ireland World Championship for Irish dance. As a trained boxer he won the Chicago Golden Gloves Championship in 1975 aged 17. Flatley is also known as being a proficient flautist, having twice won the All-Ireland Competition. His younger brother Stavros recently appeared on British television programme Britain's got talent, and takes on much of the same dancing skill and style. In dance, Flatley was taught by Dennis Dennehy at the Dennehy School of Irish Dance in Chicago, then went on to producing his own show. After graduating from Brother Rice High School, on Chicago's South Side, he opened a dance school.
From 1978-79 he toured with Green Fields of America, whose members included Liz Carroll, Father Charlie Coen, Jack Coen, Sean McGlynn, Mick Moloney and Bill Ochs, with a slightly less flamboyant Donny Golden dancing alongside Michael. Later he toured with The Chieftains in the 1980s.