"My work is part of the ongoing reconciliation of my current artistic and aesthetic concerns with the kinetic knowledge acquired through years of training in Irish Step Dance. The work is not concept driven. It starts with the body: probing deeper into what it means to be a traditional Irish dancer working in a contemporary context."
Jean Butler is a New York based choreographer/performer and recipient of 2015 Arts Council Project Award. Best known as a practitioner in Irish Dance, Butler originated the female principle roles and co- choreographed Riverdance The Show and Dancing on Dangerous Ground which Anna Kisselgoff of the NY Times reviewed as “channeling Irish step dancing into genuine artistic expression.” Trained under renowned teacher Donny Golden, Butler toured internationally as a soloist with the Chieftains for a period of 6 years. She also danced with Greenfield's of America, Cherish the Ladies, Donal Lunny, The Kodo Drummers, Kila, Solas and Martin Hayes. She is the recipient of the prestigious Irish Post Award for her outstanding contribution to Irish Dance, Irish America Magazine Top 100 Irish Americans honoree, and in 2009 received the "Outstanding Contribution to Arts & Culture Alumni Award" from the University of Limerick. Butler Holds a BA in Theatre Studies from Birmingham University, UK and a MA in Contemporary Dance Performance from the Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick, Ireland.
Since 2005 she has been working in a contemporary context. Her 2007 solo ‘does she take sugar?’ was awarded Most Innovative Production in the Critics Survey Ballet-Tanz Magazine’s 2007 Yearbook. In 2010 Butler had the pleasure of premiering ‘DAY’ choreographed by Tere O'Connorat the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. For her 2014 solo entitled ‘hurry’, which premiered at Danspace Project Jean collaborated with dance artist Jon Kinzel. In 2014 Butler was a Baryshnikov Arts Center Spring Resident Artist, a Dance Limerick 2014 Artist in Residence and a Catalyst Artist for Project Arts Centre, Dublin.
Butler’s work has been commissioned and supported by The University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy (Artist in Residence 2003-2005), The Arts Council, Culture Ireland, The Dublin Dance Festival (2007-2013) The Project Arts Center (Dublin), The Abbey Theatre (Dublin), Dance Limerick, Plankton Productions (Japan), Movement Research, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, Danspace Project, The Joyce and The Baryshnikov Arts Center.
Her current duet, this is an Irish dance, created with composer and cellist Neil Martin premiered at Danspace Project In Nov. 2015 and played the Kennedy Center in May 2016. Future dates include UK, Ireland, and France for 2017.
In NY Butler has had the pleasure of working with Yoshiko Chuma, Jodi Melnick, Tere O’Connor, Jen Rosenblit, Elena Demyanenko and Jon Kinzel. She was an editor at Movement Research's online dance journal Critical Correspondence from 2008-10. Butler is the External Examiner of the Traditional Music and Dance BA and Limerick University and is Associate Professor of Irish Studies at Glucksman Ireland House, NYU.
Butler’s work as a choreographer, performer and academic bridges the gap between a culturally specific practice and a contemporary approach to dance/thought. She is committed to idiosyncratic exploration within traditional form and is dedicated to expanding the canon and perception of Irish Dance Performance.