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Irish Dancer Jean Butler Addresses Limerick Civic Trust Ladies Lunch

The annual fundraising event which supports the work of the Trust took place on Friday 5th October at No.1 Pery Square Hotel, Limerick. Jean Butler, a leading figure in the world of Irish dance performance, Executive and Artistic Director of Our Steps Foundation was the guest speaker.
Picture: Keith Wiseman Dancer Jean Butler

Irish Dancer Jean Butler Addresses Limerick Civic Trust Ladies Lunch

Jean Butler, a leading figure in the world of Irish dance performance, was the guest speaker at the 2018 Limerick Civic Trust’s Ladies Lunch. During the lunch she spoke about her Irish dancing career and how a series of events led to a life on stage. For her, Irish dancing was her ‘foundation’ for the person she has become today.

Over 90 women from across the mid-west region attended the annual fundraising event which supports the work of the Trust.

Jean Butler reached stardom at the age of just 23 having co-choreographed and performed the principle female role in Riverdance. After a number of years with the Riverdance troupe she was “forced to ask more questions about why we do what we do” and decided to focus on exploring the dance form and other possibilities for Irish dance.

Jean Butler

Jennifer Gabbett, Executive , David O’Brien CEO, Jean Butler, Executive and Artistic Director of Our Steps Foundation, guest speaker and Thomas Wallace O’Donnell , Chairman. Picture: Keith Wiseman

Speaking at One Pery Square, the 48 year old dancer continues to dance saying she “refused to be put to pasture”.  She is now teaching in UCD as Fellow in Creative Practice where she examines tradition, modernity and innovation and how it relates to dance. During the summer she established Our Steps Foundation so that she can “give back” to the world of dance.  The purpose of the Foundation is to become a valuable resource to dancers, commission new work as well as preserving and archiving dances that are being lost as time passes.

About Irish Dancer Jean Butler:

Jean Butler is Executive and Artistic Director of Our Steps Foundation. She originated the female principle roles and co-choreographed Riverdance and Dancing on Dangerous Ground, the latter, which Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times reviewed as “channeling Irish step dancing into genuine artistic expression.”

Since 2005, she has been working in a contemporary context as a choreographer and performer and holds the position of UCD Fellow in Creative Practice, Director of the UCD Irish Dance Scholars, Assistant Professor of Irish Studies at Glucksman Ireland House, New York University, and recently taught at the prestigious Princeton Atelier.

Butler’s work as a choreographer, performer and academic bridges the gap between a culturally specific practice and a contemporary approach to dance making and thought. She is committed to idiosyncratic exploration within traditional form and is dedicated to expanding the canon and perception of Irish dance performance.

About Limerick Civic Trust:

Limerick Civic Trust, which was formed in 1983, is an independent, non-profit making voluntary society.  It is mainly supported through donations from local government, industry, business, and individuals.  Its mission is to protect and enhance Limerick’s heritage and environment through conservation and preservation, improving civic amenities and education and research.

The Trust undertakes projects that make places more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive.  Whether it’s improving or maintaining a graveyard, a riverside walk, community garden or City Street, the Trust’s work aims to promote civic pride.  The Trust also undertakes conservation and preservation projects as well as Educational and Research work.


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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.