StepCrew stomps Norfolk Library for St. Patrick’s Day

StepCrew performed to a sold-out audience at the Norfolk Library Sunday, March 17.

Mike Cobb

StepCrew stomps Norfolk Library for St. Patrick’s Day

As legend has it, St. Patrick was brought to the Emerald Isle when he was kidnapped by pirates and enslaved.

Though he eventually escaped, he returned and advanced Christianity throughout the island, according to his short biography, the “Confessio.”

Today, Patrick is regarded as the patron saint of Ireland, and the day is celebrated with religious feasts and services. When it reached the United States via Irish immigrants, St. Patrick’s Day became a secular celebration of Irish culture.

On Sunday, March 17, at 5:30 p.m., the Norfolk Library presented a sold-out spectacle celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The event featured The StepCrew, an Irish dance group that balances traditional and modern forms of step dance.

The dancers were supported by three fiddlers and an amazing five-piece ensemble comprising members of The Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies, and Bowfire Virtuosic.

Led by Cara Butler, who is well known as The Chieftains’ top Irish dancer, and supported by brothers Jon and Nathan Pilatzke, who are highly regarded as Canada’s leading step dancers, The StepCrew presented a stunning array of dances fusing Ottawa Valley step dance, Irish step dance, and Tap, showing the similarities and differences between each style.

The event was curated by Norfolk Library events planner Eileen Fitzgibbons, an Irish American who brings her passion for Irish culture to Norfolk every year by booking top-notch acts from Ireland and around the world. With the luck of the Irish on her side, Fitzgibbons found the group serendipitously.

“It’s the Norfolk Library Associates’ 50th anniversary this year,” said Fitzgibbons. “They wanted me to find a special band, though all the bands I have booked are special. I was looking for a group we had not had before. I got a call from Cara Butler, who had just had lunch with Kevin Crawford from the amazing Irish band Lúnasa. We had them about five years ago. Her band StepCrew had just had a cancellation on St. Patrick’s Day, a sad thing for sure, and she asked Kevin if he had any ideas. He said to call Eileen Fitzgibbons at the Norfolk Library, and the next thing you know, they are coming. A tip of my hat to Sarah at Wildwood [The old Mountain View Inn] for letting the Crew take over her B&B.”

The StepCrew wowed the audience with a mix of traditional Irish and more modern forms of dance such as tap. The group used the performance both to entertain and to educate by showing the dance styles in their pure form as well the fusion of and connection between different styles. For example, at times the group transitioned from Irish dance by letting the music drop out so that the dancers could perform tap, then launched back into Irish step.

Finding the revelry irresistible, the musicians broke out into dance at times as well. Toward the end of the show, the audience was invited to learn steps and danced with the group.

Attendee Stella Mae Cobb said: “They were perfectly coordinated and were in sync beautifully. It was similar to Riverdance. The performance was engaging and masterful. I loved it.”

“Craic” is the Irish word for good time. Judging by the joyous expressions on the faces of the crowd, good craic was had by all.

For more information on The StepCrew, follow them at

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