Tuesday Tunes: Jean Butler
It’s March! Tuesday Tunes is all about Irish Dancing and its most famous dancers!
Jean Butler was born in Mineola, New York. Her mother, Josephine, is from County Mayo in Ireland. She has an older brother, Michael, and a younger sister, Cara. She started ballet and tap classes at the age of four. She eventually quit both. She began Irish dance lessons at the age of six, which she quit promptly. “I hated it,” she says. “They made me stand with my arms at my sides for two hours. So, I left. I was too young.” She tried Irish dance again at age nine, this time with a different dance teacher, Donald Golden, whom she considers to be one of the most influential people in her life. About a year into Irish dance, she became very serious with it and quit the soccer and baseball teams.
Jean has performed with Green Fields of America and Cherish the Ladies. She debuted with The Chieftains at Carnegie Hall at the age of seventeen, and toured with them on three continents. In England, Butler met Irish dancer Colin Dunne and they performed together in Mayo 5000 in 1993.
In 1994, under the invitation of producer Moya Doherty, she performed in a seven-minute intermission piece at the Eurovision Song Contest entitled Riverdance. The piece was co-choreographed by Butler with Michael Flatley. The response was so explosive that it was extended into a full show, starring Jean Butler and Flatley. The show toured for about a year. Flatley then abruptly left the show over creative control; six months later she was joined by Colin Dunne. They then danced at the famous Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York. This was later put on DVD. After a long and extremely successful run with the show, Butler also eventually left Riverdance.
She and Dunne (who had by then also left Riverdance) collaborated again to create the show Dancing on Dangerous Ground, which was based on the ancient Irish legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne. It opened in London in 1999 to critical acclaim, and then in New York.
She premiered “Does She Take Sugar?” on 12 April 2007 at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin. With Colin Dunne and George Hook she is a judge on the Radio Telefís Éireann reality series Celebrity Jigs ‘n’ Reels.
She retired from active dancing in 2010.
In January 2011, it was announced that she had designed and released her own jewelery line. The collection was launched at Showcase Ireland at the RDS later that month.
Riverdance 1995: The Countess Cathleen
The Late Late Show: Tribute to Michael Flatley 1998
Andy’s Bar byKila