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‘Pinnacles and pitfalls' of Michael Flatley's life to be revealed in documentary

The Billion Dollar Dancer will feature interviews with Irish dancer Michael Flatley (Fine Point Films/PA)
Ellie Iorizzo, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Riverdance creator Michael Flatley hopes a new documentary chronicling his life will inspire young people to “never give up on their dreams”.

The Billion Dollar Dancer will document the “rollercoaster ride of pinnacles and pitfalls” of the life of Irish dancer and chorographer Flatley, including his exit from the Riverdance show ahead of its world tour in 1995 and the creation of Lord Of The Dance.

The film will use archive footage and interviews with Flatley as he oversees a 25-year anniversary tour of Lord Of The Dance, production company Lorton Entertainment and Fine Point Films confirmed on Wednesday.

It is also billed as chronicling a “tumultuous journey” for Flatley, from bullying to boxing and fast cars to cancer – having announced in January that he was “on the mend” after surgery for an aggressive form of the disease.

Michael Flatley
The film is billed as documenting Michael Flatley’s life ‘from bullying to boxing, from fast cars to cancer’ (Fine Point Films/PA)

Speaking about the documentary, directed by Grammy-winner Ryan Suffern, 65-year-old Flatley said: “I’m proud to be able to share my story with the world.

“It’s a peek under the hood at what it took to be where I am today.

“There were so many times growing up when I thought I had reached the end of the road, but the challenges made me who I am.”

He added: “More than anything, I want to inspire young people in all walks of life to never give up on their dreams.”

Flatley, who was born into a blue-collar Irish-American family in Chicago, was catapulted to fame when his Riverdance troupe performed in the interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland.

Michael Flatley
Michael Flatley (Fine Point Films/PA)

Director Suffern said: “As two Chicago boys with Southside ties, I could not be more thrilled to be making this documentary on Michael Flatley’s remarkable life.

“His story is truly an inspired one, and I’m grateful to be a part of bringing it to the screen.”

After the success of Riverdance at Eurovision, it was extended into a full-length show before Flatley left ahead of its world tour and followed it up with his own stage show, Lord Of The Dance.

He has also created, produced and directed other popular productions including Feet Of Flames and Celtic Tiger.

Julian Bird, chief executive of production company Lorton Entertainment, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Michael Flatley on his fascinating and inspiring story.

“At Lorton we have been privileged to work on amazing stories with global icons and we are looking forward showing the world the real Michael Flatley.”

During his esteemed career, Flatley also expanded into film – directing and starring in the 2018 spy thriller, Blackbird.

In the movie, which also stars Eric Roberts and Patrick Bergin, Flatley plays former MI6 operative Victor Blackley, who is drawn back into the world of espionage he had left behind.

Last year, Flatley launched a Lord Of The Dance tour to raise money for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, while in June a new, six-part, biopic series titled DanceLord, chronicling Flatley’s childhood years, was announced.

Republic of Ireland news