Jean Butler: What We Hold

North American premiere


$25–71 (inclusive of fees) 60 minutes. Limited capacity per performance.

Feb 14, 2024 – Mar 3, 2024



Irish Arts Center 
726 11th Avenue 
Hell's Kitchen, NYC


All performances have sold out, but please check our ticket page regularly in case of cancellations.

Featuring Jean Butler, Tom Cashin, Marion Cronin, Colin Dunne, Kristyn Fontanella, James Greenan, Kaitlyn Sardin, Maren Shanks, and composer Ryan C Seaton

An Our Steps and Lovano production 

This site-specific work, re-designed and re-staged for Irish Arts Center after its acclaimed 2022 Dublin premiere, takes the audience on a physical journey through the performance space, encountering an intergenerational cast of renowned dancers. It illuminates the personal and cultural histories contained within the Irish dancing body, inviting you to engage with traditional and contemporary expressions of the form side-by-side and up close, and to experience what the body holds and what happens when we collectively let go.

"A joyful journey through Irish dance"—THE NEW YORK TIMES


“Astonishing dance work...[Jean Butler’s] fine intergenerational ensemble are exhilarating”—THE IRISH TIMES


“A joyous journey...pushing at limits of form, convention, history and memory. Breathtaking.”—THE ARTS REVIEW 

Created, Choreographed & Directed by: Jean Butler
Composer & Sound Design: Ryan C Seaton
Set Designer: Katie Davenport
Costume Design: Harriet Jung & Reid Bartelme
Lighting Design: Stephen Dodd
Sound Sculpture Design: Ryan C Seaton & Andrew Rumpler
Associate Director: Laura Murphy
Performance and Rehearsal Consultant: Levi Gonzalez
Dramaturge: Shane O’Reilly
Consultant: Louise Lowe
Producer: Pádraig Heneghan/Lovano
Production Manager (Ireland): Peter Jordan
Associate Producer: Ois O’Donoghue
Photography: Ste Murray



Please note: This is a promenade dance piece. The audience is required to stand at times and move through different spaces/seating arrangements. 

Funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. Jean Butler researched, developed and honed What We Hold with financial, administrative and residency support from the Dance in Process Residency at Gibney, New York. Further financial and resource support gratefully received from Irish Arts Center, Dance Cork Firkin Crane, and Aer Lingus.

Special thanks to the generous support of Joe and Mary Lou Quinlan, Jay Johnson and Tom Cashin, Vaughn Williams, Don Gogel and Georgia Wall, and Seven Taub for Morgan Stanley.

Oral History interview material appears courtesy of Our Steps and the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library. Interviewees include: Tessie Burke, Vivienne Pentony Bergin, Jean Butler, Tom Cashin, Stephen Gallagher, Donny Golden, Brigid Grant, Father Michael Johnston, Kathleen McLoughlin, Lillian O’More, Richard Griffin, Mona Roddy, Jimmy Smith and Marion Turley.

Kilkenny Races, performed by Tom Cashin, was choreographed in 1969 by New York-based Irish dance teacher James Erwin (RIP). The tune is played by Billy Furlong.

What We Hold premiered at City Assembly House, Dublin Theatre Festival, October 2022.

Presented with generous support from Culture Ireland, the National Endowment of the Arts, the Arnhold Foundation, Denise and Bill Whelan, and Tourism Ireland.




Our Supporters

Irish Arts Center programs are supported, in part, by government, foundation, and corporate partners including Culture Ireland, the agency for the promotion of Irish arts worldwide; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the New York City Council; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; Howard Gilman Foundation; Tourism Ireland; the Jerome L. Greene Foundation; the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation; the Charina Endowment Fund; the Ireland Funds; the Shubert Foundation, Inc.; the Arnhold Foundation; the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation; the Irish Institute of New York; the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, New York; Northern Ireland Bureau; Invest NI; CIE Tours International; the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Consulate of Ireland in New York; and thousands of generous donors like you.


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