"Butler and Martin engage in an intense, affectionate, sometimes flirtatious musical conversation. 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.”  Marina Hass The New Yorker


Jean Butler’s last Danspace commission, 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 compositional departure point for the work.
Inspired by the interdependent relationship between music and dance and the formal spatial relationship between dancer and musician that characterizes her tradition, the piece 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, raises 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.

Performed by Jean Butler and Neil Martin

Choreographed by Jean Butler

Composed by Neil Martin

Set by Frank Conway 

Rehearsal Assistant Kristyn Fontanella 

Lighting and Design by Kathy Kaufmann

Costume by Jean Butler

Conceived and produced by Jean Butler

this is an Irish dance  is co commissioned and co presented by Danspace Project, The Irish Arts Center and Project Art Centre. with support from the Jerome Foundation. As part of Danspace Project’s Choreographic Center Without Walls (CW2), Butler received a Production Residency the week of February 25-March 3, 2013 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This presentation has also been supported by The Irish World Academy at the University of Limerick, Dance Limerick, Siamse Tire, Bennington Collage and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. The creation of this is an Irish dance has also been supported by The Arts Council / An Chomairle Ealaíon.

Ian Douglas

Ian Douglas