Flatley rival taps into controversy over fastest feet claim

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A SPAT has broken out between rival tapdancers over allegations that the Lord of the Dance's feet are not as fast as he likes to boast.

Michael Flatley, the American-Irish creator of Riverdance and Lord of the Dance claims he is the world's fastest tapper on the website of his current show, Celtic Tiger.

But James Devine, an Edinburgh-based Irish tap teacher, has challenged the claim, saying he holds the world record.

According to the website,

Flatley holds the record for tap dancing speed, at 35 taps per second in 1998.

However, Mr Devine claims he set the world record of 38 taps per second in May 1998, a feat recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. He said:

"When you have people claiming something they don't officially have, it gets a bit annoying.

"When you are promoting it people are questioning it, saying 'I thought it was Michael Flatley'. You are always having to verify it when you shouldn't have to, it is the official one."

Mr Devine, who teaches tap at Dance Base in Edinburgh, is preparing a solo show at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, titled Tapeire.

The show calls him the "fastest dancer of all time ... faster than Flatley".

But a spokeswoman for Flatley said only: "We were never contacted by Guinness [or] James Devine."

Guinness confirmed the world record of 38 taps a second was held by Mr Devine. It appears in the 2000 edition.