BWW Interview: Cara Butler of THE STEP CREW

BWW Interview: Cara Butler of THE STEP CREW

The Step Crew is a production that celebrates the rich Celtic culture through dynamic music and dance. What makes this group stand out? They bring you the traditions of Irish Stepdance, Modern Tap, and Ottawa Valley Stepdancing along with a modern fusion of all three percussive dance styles! In addition, this is all performed to the live music of a five-piece band including vocals and spectacular fiddlers.

As part of their 2017 spring season, The Step Crew will be performing at Brooklyn's Onstage At Kingsborough located on the campus of Kingsborough Community College on Saturday, May 20, 2017. The group will take audiences on a breathtaking adventure of dance from Ireland to North America in an extravaganza of music, song, and dance. I had the opportunity to speak with Cara Butler- a principal and renowned Irish Stepdancer with The Step Crew.

Q: Who is The Step Crew and how did the group come together?

A: We are a percussive dance company who performs elements of Irish Stepdancing, Tap, and Ottawa Valley Stepdancing. We are the only group that combines all three dance styles into one show. We work to showcase each form in its purest form, but also bring a modern twist and fusion of all three.

I was a principal dancer with a well-known traditional Irish band called The Chieftains- they are known as the Irish ambassadors of music. And I still do a lot of work with them today. While I was there about 15 years ago, I connected with two amazing stepdancers: Jon and Nathan Pilatzke. When we were working together I (who specializes in Irish Stepdancing), Jon and Nathan (who specialize in Ottawa Valley Stepdancing)- realized the connection between the two dance forms and thought it was very interesting. And that is the birth of The Step Crew. We then later added in Tap into the mix and have been performing ever since.

Q: Can you briefly describe the similarities and differences between Irish Stepdancing, Tap, and Ottawa Valley Stepdancing?

A: All three are percussive dance styles, meaning they are very rhythmic and have a lot of intricate footwork. Irish Stepdance comes out of the traditions of Ireland. You can think of it as similar to ballet- it is very stiff in the torso with a lot of quick and precise movements with the feet. Tap has its roots in several ethnic percussive dances including Irish. It is also rhythmic, but a bit more grounded and loose and free in the torso. Ottawa Valley Stepdancing comes from the Ottawa Valley- a section of French Canada, just north of Quebec. Lumber was a huge industry in that part of the country. The Irish immigrants who were cutting wood, when they would get off of a long day's work, they would come together, break out their fiddles and dance!

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Caryn Cooper Caryn Cooper is an arts administrator, educator and performer. She began her dance training at a young age studying ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) technique for eight years and has trained in other dance forms such as tap, jazz, hip hop and West African where she has had the opportunity to perform at various venues in the Greater New York City Area including, The Wild Project, Frederick Loewe Theatre, 92 Y, Ailey Citigroup Theater, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts and Radio City Music Hall. Administratively, she has worked for a number of arts organizations including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico and the New York City Center. She is currently pursuing her certification to become a Moving for Life instructor under the direction of Dr. Martha Eddy using dance to help breast cancer recovery patients and those with physical disabilities. Caryn holds a BFA in Arts Management from LIU Post, a MA in Dance Education from NYU, and is a member of the dance/NYC Junior Committee.