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Friday, October 9, 1998 Published at 18:26 GMT 19:26 UK


Manager was a bully, claims Flatley

Michael Flatley on stage as Lord of the Dance

Dancer Michael Flatley took centre stage at London's High Court and accused John Reid, the manager he sacked, of being "bullying, threatening, rude and abusive".

Mr Flatley, who revolutionised Irish dancing with his Riverdance and Lord of the Dance spectaculars, also said that Mr Reid had neglected him while handling the affairs of rock legend Sir Elton John.

The Irish-American dancer made the claims in a case in which he is contesting a £10m action for damages brought by Mr Reid, aged 49, for cancelling a contract last year.

Mr Flatley now plans to concentrate on a film career or even return to his Chicago childhood days and become a professional boxer.

Overnight success

He told the court that Mr Reid had been "unavailable and disinterested" and said that if he known he would receive so little of his manager's time he would never have signed with him in 1995.

Mr Flatley became an overnight star in 1994 when the Riverdance routine appeared in Dublin as the interval show during the Eurovision song contest.

He later split with the Riverdance team and mounted his own Lord of the Dance extravaganza which he has performed in 100 cities around the world, grossing nearly £100m.

Wanted Mr Reid to end his nightmare

Mr Flatley, born in America of Irish parents, told the court of how he had been "really, really excited" when he first met John Reid in St Tropez in 1995.

"He seemed to me to be a very important and powerful man. I knew he managed Elton John, who is one of my heroes. I was very keen on being managed by Mr Reid."

[ image: The Lord of the Dance last took to the stage in July]
The Lord of the Dance last took to the stage in July
The dancer said he had wanted Mr Reid to end his "nightmare" after being sacked from Riverdance. He thought he was the top man who could open doors and help him achieve his dreams.

But the relationship soured and in court the dancer said "I believe he never intended to act as my manager in the way he had promised and never had the capacity to do so because of his other commitments, business (especially Sir Elton John) and personal.

One of the world's top entertainers

"John Reid did not have the contacts he claimed and had no significant overseas presence or connections."

He further alleged that Mr Reid put his and his company's own financial interests before his.

Forbes magazine lists 40-year-old Mr Flatley as one of the world's highest paid entertainers. The breathtaking speed of his tap dancing won him a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Once asked if he was the best dancer in the world, he unhesitatingly replied: "Yes."

The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday when Mr Flatley will continue to be cross-examined.

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