Jean Butler was born and raised in New York. Her mother, originally from Cavan, started her in dance classes at the age of four.
Although trained in ballet and tap, Irish dancing became her speciality when she began to win consecutive regional, national and world championships. At the age of seventeen Jean began a successful solo career with the Chieftains and toured extensively throughout America, Canada, Europe and Japan. She appeared in several videos and her taps can be heard on the album The Rocky Road to Dublin in collaboration with Mick Jagger. Jean also performed for Princess Diana at the royal premiere of Far and Away and represented Ireland at Expo ‘92.
A theatre lover, Jean graduated with a BA in Theatre Studies from Birmingham University.
In 1994 Jean was asked to perform the interval segment in the Eurovision Song Contest with Michael Flatley. Entitled Riverdance and choreographed by her and Michael, it was then extended into a full-scale show and enjoyed enormous global success. Jean starred in the show for three years at venues such as Labatts Apollo Hammersmith London, Radio City Music Hall New York, the Kings Hall Belfast, Rosemount Theatre Chicago and the Pantages Theatre Los Angles.
Jean’s acting roles include that of Mattie in THE BRYLCREEM BOYS, directed by Terence Ryan and starring Gabriel Byrne, Bill Campbell and John Gordon Sinclair. She played Gloriana in THE REVENGER'S TRAGEDY starring Christopher Eccelston and Derek Jacobi, and she also appeared in GOLDFISH MEMORY directed by Liz Gill.
After leaving Riverdance Jean went on to produce, choreograph and star in her own show with dancing partner Colin Dunne. Dancing on Dangerous Ground opened in Drury Lane in December 1999 and went on to sell out success in Radio City Music Hall.
2013 marked a return for Jean as choreorapher of her own work when she created and performed in the solo show HURRY at the project arts centre. Part of the Dublin Dance Festival, HURRY was directed by Jon Kinzel and featured an installation by renowed visual artist Corban Walker.
Jean is based in New York.