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Gradam Ceoil TG4

Jean Butler – Lifetime Achievement Award

Pic – John Midgely


Dancer, choreographer and Our Steps Artistic Director Jean Butler is a leading figure in the world of contemporary Irish dance performance. Her most recent production, a site -specific promenade piece entitled ‘What We Hold’ premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2022 NY to critical acclaim. In February 2024, ‘What We Hold’ had its North American premiere at Irish Arts Center with a sellout run of 30 shows. Past works have been supported and presented by The Arts Council (Ireland), Abbey Theatre (Dublin), Baryshnikov Arts Center (N.Y.), Danspace Project (N.Y.), Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Theatre Festival, Irish Arts Center (N.Y.), Jacobs Pillow (MA), The Joyce (N.Y.), Kennedy Center (D.C.), Project Arts Centre (Dublin), and Seamus Heaney Homeplace (Northern Ireland).

In 2018 Butler founded Our Steps, a not- for-profit organization committed to expanding the way we think about history, practice, and performance of Irish dance. Partnering with the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library, ‘Our Steps initiated Our Steps, Our Story: An Irish Dance Legacy Archive.’ To date, this ever -expanding archive has created over 200 hours of video and audio resources of never before documented solo set dances and oral history interviews spanning seven decades of history from Ireland, England, Scotland, the United States and Canada.

Butler has taught at Princeton University, University College Dublin, University of Notre Dame Global Center, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick and Glucksman Ireland House, NYU. Her performance career started in NY with Mick Moloney’s Greenfields of American. Butler went on tour with the Chieftains for six years before choreographing and starring in the original Irish dance productions, Riverdance and Dancing on Dangerous Ground. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards and honours.

Jean is the proud daughter of Josephine Byrne Butler, who hails from Ballyhaunis, County Mayo and student of NY based dance master Donny Golden.