Jean Butler’s as lithe and graceful as ever, her tiny frame and incredibly expressive feet a testimony to decades of dance- it’s absolutely impossible to imagine her slouching or slumping under any conditions. After a gruelling solo performance in hurry at The Project, which she choreographed and performed against a steel wire installation by Corban Walker, she was sunshine and light itself, clearly delighted to be amongst so many friends and family. The show was a year in the making and will do a second run in New York at the Joyce Theatre in January- if you’ve missed the Dublin Dance Festival, catch up with it there. So that’s the dance part- but there’s more… she also manages to teach- she’s a professor of Irish Studies at NYU- and design pretty Celtic inspired jewellery. We’re in awe.
Long may that signature ponytail bounce so perkily.
How often do you make it to Ireland? About 3-4 times a year normally. I consider myself incredibly lucky to consider both New York and Ireland home.
What’s your fave thing to do here? Although I adore spending a Dublin day wandering in and out of old haunts stopping at Peter’s Pub for a pint and ending up at the Troc, I desperately long for the Irish countryside. Whether that means storming the Wicklow hills with friends, driving west along the open road towards Mayo where my family is from, or hitting the beautiful beaches of Donegal- I need my Irish nature fix- preferably with friends and family, always with good food, wine and chats.
When and where’s your next gig? Details? hurry (the show i just performed at the Dublin Dance Festival) is playing New York’s Joyce Theatre in January -which is very exciting. I also have a residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center coming up where the plan is to start on a companion piece to hurry. I’m also back in Dublin for the weekend of July 19-21 for a huge Gathering/Riverdance Anniversary Event. But kicking it off on the Friday night I’ll be helping my sister, Cara, celebrate her 20th year dancing with the Chieftains at the National Concert Hall. I am so proud of her!
Favourite Music of the Moment: I’m really into Jack White’s Blunderbuss. ‘I’m Shaking” is such a great song and the video is fab.
Next Night Out: Nights in are our new nights out! Yes, we have turned into domestically blissed out homebodies since buying our new house in Brooklyn last year. Most nights involve lots of cooking, entertaining or just lounging around the newly planted but ever evolving garden. Days out are more our style now- especially at the weekend. This coming weekend we’re hopping in the car and popping up to Dia Beacon- a former 300,000 square foot historic printing factory renovated into one of NY’s premier art foundations/museums situated right on the Hudson River in the Hudson Valley. I imagine there will be a picnic involved in the proceedings.
Favourite NY Shop/Restaurant: Very near where I live there is a strip of shops on Atlantic Ave between Hoyt and Bond, which I adore. Town and Country 352 for the best midcentury furniture finds, Eva Gentry Consignment for swapping designer goods, Darr for the coolest curated home-ware, books, and art, Layla for beautiful master crafted Indian clothing and bedding…. and the list goes on! Post shopping, a Bloody Mary at neighborhood hub Building on Bond is a must. Grab a seat outside amidst the beauty of Brownstone Brooklyn and while away the afternoon- divine!
Favourite perfume: I have been wearing Le Labo for a few years now- which I cannot get enough of. Each of the ten fragrances is mixed on site by hand, on demand in their Soho perfumery lab. The bottle’s label is personalized with your name, the person who mixed it and the date. So cool. Right now I’m wearing Jasmin 17 courtesy of my ever-knowing husband.
Favourite Designer: I admire different designers for different things. My personal style is fairly streamlined so the tailored clean line aesthetics of Celine and Stella McCarthy are right up my alley. And on the other end of the spectrum, I love the color, whimsy and show stopping dresses of Duro Oloowu and Peter Pilotto. My everyday look is far more urban warrior than designer though. I’m essentially a great jean, top, boot and fitted jacket kind of girl…..
Next thing you’re buying: My current wish purchase would be an abstract painting by Elliot Puckette….but on a practical level- a helmet for cycling is far more urgent.
Favourite Place on Earth: Other than our house in Brooklyn or the Wicklow mountains- it would have to be Tulum, Mexico. We have finally found our stateside bolt-hole. We can leave our house at 9am and be on the quietest most beautiful beach sipping a cool one by 4:30pm. We go to the same place, and book the same palapa every time. No electricity, no phones, and no outside world. We unplug and unwind.
On your Bedside Table: Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter by Antonia Fraser (a re-read for my next book club hosting), Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries 2, Chance and Circumstance- 20 Years with Cage and Cunningham by Carolyn Brown, Grace -A Memoir by Grace Coddington and the last three weeks of NY Magazines. I like a full bedside table.
To see more of Jean’s jewellery, click here