"Think of the thing that gives you goose bumps, then do it!"
After the Hyde Park show, Michael took a well-deserved hiatus from touring, but not from living his "follow your dreams" philosophy. He spent that year developing new Lord of the Dance troupes, bringing one to Disneyworld's Epcot Center in Orlando , Florida , during the summers of 1999 and 2000.
Soon Michael's adoring public demanded more, and he was persuaded to tour with a thrilling new version of Feet of Flames throughout Europe and the United States . In September 1999, Michael announced details of his new Feet of Flames 2000 World Tour in a spectacular one-off launch event by emerging from the depths of a flaming lake on the picturesque grounds of Satsvey Castle in Southern Germany .
During the summer of 2000, Michael played to over four million people in Western Europe and performed before an audience of over 100,000 in Budapest , Hungary . The last show of the European leg, a spectacular finale at Stormont in Belfast , Northern Ireland , proved that hearts united through music and dance pay no heed to historical boundaries. His most recent video release, entitled Gold, chronicles Michael's astonishing career and includes many scenes shot during the Belfast and Budapest shows.
Wherever he took Feet of Flames , Michael was met with enthusiastic audiences and standing ovations. Beginning in June of 2001, Michael brought his Feet of Flames , The Victory Tour , to 20 American cities. The highlight of the tour was the fulfillment of Michael's dream to perform at New York 's Madison Square Garden . All who were fortunate enough to get a ticket said Michael was truly at the pinnacle of his art.
"Since I was a kid, I've been a dancer, and, of course, I'll always be a dancer till the day I die."
Michael's achievements and awards are countless, including entries in the Guinness Book of World Records for tap dancing speed, highest paid dancer, and highest insurance premium placed on a dancer's legs - a mind-boggling $40,000,000. He exceeded his first tap speed record of 28 taps per second, set in 1989, by executing a phenomenal speed of 35 taps per second in 1998 at the age of 39.
"I think it is important to keep challenging yourself. That's what keeps me going."
When Michael announced his retirement from touring in June 2001, fans from all corners of the globe gathered for his final performance in Dallas , Texas on July 29, 2001 . But true to form, Michael had no intention of retiring from creating and following his dreams. Instead he plunged into his role as creative director, planning and devising new shows and future productions with which to tour the world. Working on ideas and innovations sure to capture the imagination of his global audiences, he began searching for new dancing talent to stage his creations and continue to thrill audiences worldwide.
During 2002 Michael saw Lord of the Dance continue to grow and prosper playing to audiences around the world. With one troupe resident in Las Vegas , Nevada and two international troupes on the road, the production returned to tour again in Australia , Germany , France , and across the USA . As the curtain fell on an exciting four-year residency at the New York, New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where over 2,000,000 people saw the show, the curtain rose on a new deal.
Once again Lord of the Dance broke new ground with stunning performances in Lebanon , Ukraine , Finland , and Russia . Michael witnessed a spectacular series of sold-out performances by Troupe One at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow each night that included many Russian and international dignitaries. A few days later the show thrilled audiences in St. Petersburg and while in Russia , Michael announced his plans to establish a series of international dance academies in major cities around the world, the first of which opened in Moscow .