Dancer and choreographer Michael Flatley was born on July 16, 1958 in Chicago, Illinois. Born to Irish parents, he began taking dance lessons when he was 11 years old, and later specialized in Irish dance. In 1975, he became the first non-European to win the All-Ireland World Championship for Irish dance. He also trained initially as a boxer and flautist, having won competitions in these disciplines during his youth.
Flatley began working as a touring dancer in the mid-1970s, first working with the Green Fields of America, and later with The Chieftains. He became better known, however, in the 1990s, when he worked as one of the choreographers for what would eventually be known as Riverdance. He, along with Jean Butler, debuted the performance as an intermission act in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin. It became a wide success, and the two later developed a full-length show based on the original seven-minute performance. He left Riverdance in 1997, due to creative differences, later working on his own show, Lord of the Dance, a year later.
Flatley has since worked on other shows, including Feet of Flames, and more recently, Celtic Tiger. He has also won many awards and honors because of his art, notably the first Irish Dancing Commission Fellowship award in 2001. He also held the world record for tapping speed twice in his career. After battling a mostly private bout with skin cancer, he has continued performing in dance shows, as well as teaching prospective performers. He has also made a return to television, appearing as a guest judge or performer on Dancing with the Stars, and as the host of another dance competition, Superstars of Dance.