Jean Butler – Dance Artist in Residence

14th September 2017

Posted In: So In Demand

Jean Butler, who burst onto the international stage as the original female lead dancer and co-choreographer of Riverdance in 1994, is to take up a new role as Dance Artist in Residence and Director of UCD Irish Dance Ensemble with University College Dublin. Applications are now open to students to audition for the UCD Irish Dance Ensemble.

In her role as Dance Artist in Residence, based in the School of English, Drama and Film, Butler will share her international dancing expertise, academic research and insight with students and faculty. She plans to host informal dance lecture demonstrations of her personal research and findings, and take part in conversational lectures. The appointment of Jean Butler is a pioneering step by the University to champion the national art of Irish Dance.

Professor Danielle Clarke, Head of the School of English Drama and Film at UCD, says of Butler’s appointment: “We are thrilled that someone of Jean Butler’s talent and international reputation will be working with students and faculty in the School. Her appointment will help us fulfil our ambition of bringing creative and critical practice into productive dialogue, as well as showcasing our strengths in the area of performance.”

As Director of UCD Irish Dance Ensemble, Butler will appoint and direct a new performing group of talented Irish dancers from within the student body, helping these performers improve their technical and stylistic dancing skills, while also developing a deeper and more extensive understanding what constitutes Irish Dance performance.

UCD already offers opportunities in drama, singing, orchestra and instrument, to gifted performing arts students who are enrolled in academic degree programmes across the University. These students are awarded financial stipends, and receive dedicated training by artistic directors as well as performance opportunities for their artform, complementary to their academic studies.

“Adding Irish Dance to our performance repertoire was a very natural step for us as we knew we were missing this element of our cultural heritage.” Eilis O’Brien, Director of Communications explains. “Our existing performance students have already shown that they love to take their art to stages beyond these shores. The UCD Choral Scholars for example, are wonderful ambassadors who perform to the highest international standards, have recorded under classical label Signum Records, and regularly tour overseas while managing to complete their studies in subjects ranging from archaeology to zoology.

The talent is already here. Jean is the catalyst to bring forward Irish dancers who would like to have the opportunity to be part of exciting choreography and collaborations within the University artistic community and the wider field. Our plan is to take the Irish Dance Ensemble on overseas tours as well as to perform here in Ireland.”

Auditions from within the UCD student body across all academic disciplines will take place next month. Up to five talented students will be appointed to the Ensemble, and will receive a financial bursary, and under the direction of Jean Butler, will develop their artistic talents working collaboratively with Kristyn Fontanella as deputy choreographer, and perform at high-profile events in Ireland and abroad.