Jean Butler’s last co-commission for Project Arts Centre, hurry (2013), invoked the choreographer’s celebrated past in Irish Step Dance.
Her new duet, this is an Irish dance, created with Belfast-based cellist Neil Martin, further unearths her roots by returning to the relationship between live music and movement as the choreographic departure point for the work.
Inspired by the interdependent relationship between traditional music and dance, and the formal spatial relationship between dancer and musician that characterises her tradition, this is an Irish dance explores the often-invisible interplay between dancer and musician in live performance.
The movement and music, created simultaneously through improvisation during the piece’s development, raise questions about who is leading and who is following.
this is an Irish dance reveals a dialogue between music and movement,movement and sound, sound and space, space and sculpture, sculpture and body,body and instrument, cello and cellist, cellist and dancer, and ultimately a man and woman.
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“Her striking clarity, rhythmic command and redheaded elegance were all still there yet now allied to a searching intelligence that pulled apart Irish step dance and put it back together in intriguing ways”
The New York Times
“Butler is an extraordinary dancer, the accent of her dancing is distinctly Irish … her footwork is light and crisp—she skitters across the floor, like a butterfly skimming the surface of a lake”
The New Yorker
Running time: 55 min
Choreography and performance Jean Butler
Composition and performance Neil Martin
Design Frank Conway
Lighting Design Michael Cummins
Costume Jean Butler
Rehearsal Assistant Kristyn Fontanella
Set Construction Michael and Milo Cummins
Production Manager Michael Cummins
Production Coordinator Barry McKinney
Publicity Stephanie Dickenson
Co-presented and co-commissioned by Project Arts Centre, Danspace Project and Irish Arts Center
Jean Butler is a New York City-based choreographer and performer. Best known as a practitioner of Irish Dance, Butler originated the female principal roles and co-choreographed Riverdance The Show and Dancing on Dangerous Ground. Trained under renowned teacher Donny Golden, Butler toured internationally as a soloist with The Chieftains for six years. Butler is currently a Lecturer in Irish Studies at New York University.
Belfast-born composer Neil Martin’s output spans dance, opera, film, theatre, television, studio, choral, symphonic and chamber works. A cellist and uilleann piper, he has collaborated with a broad spectrum of artists including Sam Shepard, Stephen Rea, Barry Douglas, Bryn Terfel, Christy Moore, The Chieftains, The West Ocean String Quartet, The Dubliners, the London Symphony Orchestra and all the professional orchestras in Ireland. In his roles as producer, arranger, musical director and performer, he has contributed to more than one hundred albums and his music has been heard everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Mostar Bridge, and from the PalazzoVecchio to the International Space Station.
The creation of this is an irish dance was made possible, in part, with support from the Danspace Project 2015-2016 Commissioning Initiative with funds from the Jerome Foundation. this is an Irish dance was supported by developmental residencies at Dance Limerick, Siamse Tire, and Bennington College, Vermont.