Michael Flatley: “Cancer battle is tough, but I don’t give in easily!”

Riverdance star and Monaco resident Michael Flatley has made a brave statement about his fight against cancer and his dreams for the future.  

20 years after first facing cancer, 64-year-old Michael Flatley, who was the recent recipient of an award at the Golden Gloves boxing competition, has another fight on his hands.  

“It’s not been an easy battle, to be honest with you,” the world-renowned dancer told his fans via social media. “It’s been a tough fight, but I don’t give in easily and I’ve visualised myself already on the other side of that wall.” 

While he has not specified which form of cancer he is battling, the Lord of the Dance and Riverdance star is in the care of a team of doctors and has undergone surgery to treat the disease.  

“I know that it’s going to be a tough task and it’s going to be a long fight, but that’s OK. I’m ready for it, and I thank God every day for the things that I do have,” he told The Sunday Times. “I’m confident in the end that I’ll be successful in getting past this. You’ve just got to keep on going, that’s the most important thing.” 

A new freestyle competition to work towards

Flately recently travelled to Montreal in Canada for the World Irish Dancing Championships. While there, he launched a new freestyle competition for upwards of 2,500 Irish dancers. He himself was the first American to win the event at the age of 17 in 1975.  

“The young dancers are really so fabulous, and they work so hard to get where they are,” he said after the event.  

He has since been inundated with applications for keen dancers desperate to take part in his new competition: “It was fantastic, I’m over the moon with the response… “The competition was fierce and it was nice to see Irish dancing moving to a new level. We’ve changed Irish dancing forever, again. It’s just a wonderful feeling to see the young people interpreting music in a different way, being able to use their upper body movement, their arms, their acting skills, and dancing to a storyline.” 

2024 will mark the 30th anniversary of his first and now iconic Riverdance performance.  

“Who would have thought all those years ago… that we’d still be going and that dancers would be still working on it [Riverdance]? And Lord of the Dance is right behind it,” he said. “Spreading Irish culture around the world, trying to give employment to hundreds of young dancers after their competitive dance career is over, that was always my dream — to give them something to do after they worked all these years to perfect their art form.” 

It is a philosophy that goes right to his core: “I’m one of those people that I just go after my goals and I just keep on going. It’s trying to help somebody every day somehow in some way. It’s worth living for, it’s worth moving on for.” 


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Interview: Michael Flatley


Photo of Prince Albert and Michael Flatley, taken when Flatley hosted the Prince at his home in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day 2023. Credit: Frank Morgan Studios