BWW Interview: Cara Butler of THE STEP CREW

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!

Q: With your upcoming show on May 20th, what do you hope the audience will get out the performance?

A: We hope that we are able to expose people to a new dance form that they have never seen before. Some folks may have a familiarity with some of the dances, but we hope that they will gain an appreciation for all three. We also hope to inspire kids to get involved with dance and/or music. Dance is a universal language and is so vital to society. We hope that people leave energized, and excited, and want to support the arts.

We are very excited to be performing in New York. This is our first time back in NYC since 2015, and this is our first gig in a professional theater! This is a high energy show with live music and we hope people are just as excited as we are. We are super pumped! But, ultimately, we love what we do, and we hope that it shows.

"StepCrew provides an entirely unique experience because they perform Step, Ottawa Valley, and Tap, alongside traditional and contemporary Irish music. It is a very varied and full experience. Audiences don't usually get to experience this much range in a single evening" says Anna Becker, Executive Director of On Stage At Kingsborough. The Step Crew will be performing on Saturday, May 20th at 8pm at On Stage At Kingsborough for one night only! Don't miss out on this amazing show. It is truly one not to miss! For tickets and more information, please visit www.onstageatkingsborough.org.

Photo Credit: Wik Heerma

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Caryn Cooper Caryn Cooper is an arts administrator, educator and performer from Long Island, NY. She began her dance training at a young age studying ballet in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) technique and other dance forms such as tap, jazz, hip hop, modern and West African. She has had the opportunity to perform at various venues in the Greater New York City Area including, Radio City Music Hall, Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, the 92Y, Ailey CitiGroup Theater, Central Park, and The Wild Project. Administratively, she has worked for a number of arts organizations including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispanico, and the New York City Center. Currently at Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, she works to plan arts education programs for schools and seniors in underserved communities throughout Queens and the New York City Metropolitan area. Caryn is currently a Moving for Life Certified Instructor (MFLCI) where she uses dance to help breast cancer recovery patients and those dealing with pain caused by chronic illnesses. She is currently pursuing a certification as a BodyMind Dancing (BMD) Instructor, under the direction of Dr. Martha Eddy, to guide students as they reflect and learn about the 3-dimenionality and repatterning of the body. Caryn is a member of Americans for the Arts, the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), the New York State Dance Education Association (NYSDEA), and sits on the Young Professionals Committee of The Possibility Project and the Board of Trustees for Moving for Life, Inc. She is also a Contributing writer for BroadwayWorld Dance. She is the proud recipient of the 2016 Field Diversity Award and the 2017 Jessica Wilt Memorial Scholarship through the Americans for the Arts.