“Jean Butler’s Irish Dance Masterclass,” features a number of techniques and exercises created by Butler herself.
The DVD launch in March marked her return to the public eye after taking two years out to complete a master’s degree in contemporary dance at the University of Limerick.
“It was an incredible experience which had an enormous impact on me,” she said, speaking to the Irish Echo while in New York, where she travels frequently from her home in Ireland.
“Even someone at my level can still learn new things. I went in very much as a beginner starting on the bottom rung. I wanted to share my findings and my experience so I could help young kids to look at Irish dancing in a different way.”
The “Masterclass” DVD seems like a natural progression for the flame-haired beauty, whose performances have become synonymous with the rebirth of Irish dancing as a global phenomenon over the last decade. Why did she wait so long?
“The time was right; people have been suggesting that I do something like this for the past 10 years but I resisted it because I felt it might be on the back of something else,” she said.
“I’m glad I waited until now. The technologies are so exciting; you can create your own program and work at your own speed. You can program it to your own needs.”
The DVD caters for everyone from beginners to experienced Irish dancers.
“Its really for anyone who’s interested,” she said.
“Beginners might find it a bit tricky but they can certainly pick things up. It’s also very much an aid for young kids who are training. I understand how difficult and lonely it can be. This is like a tool for them. It’s something I would recommend that kids do outside the their Irish dance classes.”
Aptly enough, The DVD launch coincides with the 10-year anniversary of Riverdance, the show that catapulted Butler and Michael Flatley to fame.
“10 years was just enough time to look back and realize how wonderful it was,” she said.
“Riverdance opened the world’s eyes to Irish dancing. We weren’t aware of it at the time because it was cutting edge and we were so busy that we didn’t fully realize how lucky we were to be part of something so exciting. In my day it was only kids from Irish backgrounds who did it. Now kids of all cultures want to learn Irish dancing. It killed off the old stereotypes and created an image of Irish dancing that was new, modern and refreshing.”