MICHAEL FLATLEY Biography - Famous Poets and dancers


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Born July 16, 1958 , Michael is the second of five children. He has a brother       
and three sisters. His parents, Michael and Eilish, emigrated from Ireland in       
1947 and settled in Chicago , Illinois , where they established a successful         
construction business. Michael credits his father with instilling in him the         
tireless work ethic and extraordinary drive that empowered him in his quest to       
transform dreams into reality.                                                       
"I can go back to when I was six years old. I was always getting in trouble for     
dreaming, and the things I got in trouble for dreaming then are the things I'm       
doing today."                                                                       
Dance was in his blood. Though Michael was born and raised in the United States     
, he often visited family in Ireland . His mother and his maternal grandmother,     
Hannah Ryan, were both champion Irish dancers. Hannah taught Michael his first       
few steps at the age of four and always encouraged him to follow his heart and       
his dreams. Years later, when these dreams became reality, an empty front row       
seat at every show marked his silent tribute to the late grandmother he so           
"She once visited me in Chicago in an ice cold winter. At that time I was           
completely broke, working occasional jobs for a couple of bucks an hour,             
dreaming of becoming the greatest dancer in the world. It was she who encouraged     
me to make my life special and to dance. Two weeks later she died. The empty         
seat is a sign of my respect to her, for I believe she is still watching me."       
Michael's parents were committed to retaining their children's Irish heritage,       
so at age 11 Michael was "dragged by the ears" to Irish dance class. He was sent     
home after being told he was too old, but Michael persisted. Not only because "there 
were lots of pretty girls in class," he confesses with a grin, but also because     
he could not let a challenge go unanswered. Surpassing his classmates in winning     
competitions, 17-year-old Michael became the first American to bring the title       
of All-World Irish Dancing Champion to the US . At the same time Michael studied     
traditional Irish flute and won the first of several titles as All-Ireland Flute     
Champion. His destiny and his dreams were beginning to merge.