Show celebrates the links between music and dance

Jean Butler and cellist Neil Martin.
Jean Butler and cellist Neil Martin.

Riverdance star and choreographer Jean Butler will join forces with composer and cellist Neil Martin for a new show, this is an Irish dance, in the Black Box Theatre next Friday, September 29. The event is being presented by Music for Galway (MFG) and is the opening show of MFG’s 37th concert season, Let’s Dance.

this is an Irish dance, which is just under an hour long, is a collaboration between Irish-American Jean Butler and Belfast’s Neil Martin. Created as a duet for dancer and cellist, it premiered in New York in 2015 and has since been further developed.

It explores the often-invisible interplay between dancer and musician in live performance and was praised by The New Yorker for the “intense, affectionate, sometimes flirtatious musical conversation” between Butler and Martin. The magazine went on to praise Butler as “an extraordinary dancer”, stating that “the accent of her dancing is distinctly Irish”.

Playing with notions of tradition and identity, and investigating the relationship between music and dance, the show raises questions about who is leading and who is following – this was done through improvisation during the creative process. There’s an intimate, playful and dramatic dialogue between body and instrument, cello and cellist, cellist and dancer, man and woman. And it sets the tone for Music for Galway’s new season which will focus on dance and music.

At the Black Box, this is an Irish Dance starts at 8pm. Tickets are €20/€18. For fulltime students it’s €6 and for MFG Friends, there’s a special rate of €16.Tickets at or 091 569777.