Riverdance's Michael Flatley: I was not afraid to perform for ‘angry' Putin

The dancer and choreographer is raising money for Ukraine via his new tour.

Michael Flatley has said he was not afraid to perform for Vladimir Putin, joking: “Listen, that’s me. I’m Irish.”

The Riverdance star, 63, delivered a special routine titled Warlord in front of world leaders in St Petersburg in 2003, in a move widely considered a slight to the assembled dignitaries.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, the dancer and choreographer suggested he had not been worried by the Russian leader’s reportedly angry reaction.

Flatley said he had met Putin only briefly during the visit.

G20 meeting – Germany
Russian president Vladimir Putin (Matt Cardy/PA)

He said: “Listen, that’s me. I’m Irish. I’m not afraid of anything. Well listen, it probably didn’t go down well with a lot of those world leaders. But you know, I am anti-war. I have always been anti-war.”

Referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, he added: “It is 2022 and we are still sending our young sons and daughters in to murder other innocent sons and daughters for whatever the reason.

“I think it is disgraceful. It is uncivilised and it somehow has to end somewhere.

“There is always a reason, there is always some monumental reason why we have to do this – we must, we have to defend ourselves. There is always something.

“But I think it is brutal. It is horrible. If you are an average Joe on the street and you murder somebody that’s life imprisonment, maybe death penalty.

“But if it is war, have at it lads. Kill as many as you can and you will get a medal.”

Flatley, who was born in Chicago to Irish parents and found fame as the principal choreographer and dancer of early Riverdance shows, blamed politicians for the conflict in Ukraine.

He said: “In my experience, we have played many times in both Ukraine and Russia and there are beautiful people there, just beautiful, and immensely gifted and highly intelligent people, and it is hard that we are all coloured with the same crayon.

“As I said, the politicians are the ones that have made these decisions.

“I am sure if you approached any of the people in the field fighting, they don’t really want to be there. I doubt that their mothers want any of them there.”

Flatley, whose Lord of the Dance tour will be raising money for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, became emotional during the show, as they discussed the growing death toll in the country.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access