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Jean's head over heels for Mr Cool; EX-RIVERDANCE STAR'S LOVE FOR TOP DESIGNER.

FORMER Riverdance star Jean Butler has been swept off her feet by new boyfriend Cuan Hanly, the Mr Cool of Irish fashion.

Friends have revealed the 29-year-old beauty has fallen head over heels in love with the designer.

And as our exclusive pictures show, the couple are spending every spare moment together.

They like nothing better than a spin on the 33-year-old Dubliner's Vespa scooter.

In matching black leather jackets and sunglasses, the pair turned heads as Cuan whisked Jean off on a shopping trip in Dublin city centre.

The dancer has just paid pounds 680,000 for a new three-bedroom apartment near Parliament Street in the exclusive Temple Bar area.

And it just happens to be upstairs from Cuan's fashion store.

The designer, who has been dating Jean for nearly five months, has been helping her to move house.

Her pounds 550,000 Georgian home in Ranelagh in south Dublin has just been put on the market and she hopes it will be sold early next month.

Insiders believe the house, decorated throughout with polished wooden floorboards and minimalist style, will fetch much more than its asking price.

After their shopping strip, pals revealed that Cuan may have the reputation as a ladies' man but he only has eyes for one woman - Jean.

One pal said: "They are very much in love. They have the same interests and enjoy each other's company.

"They look great together and know it. Jean and Cuan are just perfect for one another."

Educated at Rathgar High School, Cuan spent seven years working for British designer Paul Smith.

Before returning to Dublin to open his own shop, he worked in London, Paris and Tokyo.

Cuan comes from a family of high-achievers.

His late father was a vet, a lecturer at University College Dublin and also a rower who competed for Ireland in the Olympics.

And his three sisters are a barrister, a personnel manager and an architect.

Jean is currently coping with the collapse of her dance company, Tricky Feat.

She also launched legal proceedings over allegations that she once tried to borrow money from her former co-star Michael Flatley after the firm went bust with debts of around pounds 3 million.

She is believed to be deeply hurt at the claims and told her lawyers they are totally false.

The allegations were made public soon after Flatley took his dance spectacular Feet Of Flames on the road in Europe.

As he dazzled audiences with his dancing, Jean's firm, which she set up with Colin Dunne - the man who replaced Flatley in Riverdance - crashed with the huge debt.

The production company was set up in January last year to help produce her own show, Dancing On Dangerous Ground.

Around pounds 1.5 million was raised six months later by three promotion companies to co-fund the show which Jean hoped would rival Flatley's Lord Of The Dance and Feet Of Flames sensations. The show centred on the love affair between Celtic folklore's greatest characters - warrior Diarmuid and princess Grainne.

But when it opened last December in London's West End, it received poor reviews and fans stayed away.

Producers then made costly changes before they took it to New York's Radio City Music Hall in March.

Both Riverdance and Lord Of The Dance played to capacity crowds at the same venue - but Dancing On Dangerous Ground ran for just seven days.

It was scheduled to be taken on a tour of Canada the next month but was hit with further financial problems.

Eventually the decision was taken to call off the tour.

In July, with mounting financial headaches, Tricky Feat went into liquidation with debts of pounds 3 million.

Jean and Colin Dunne both lost pounds 283,000 of their own money which they had invested in the company.

The firm folded six days before Riverdance made a triumphant return to Dublin after years of touring abroad.

News of the collapse of both Jean's show and business soon reached Flatley in Budapest, where his own Feet Of Flames show had been a massive hit.

Butler has denied reports that she ever asked Flatley, 42, for money to help bail her out.

The pair became overnight successes six years ago when a seven-minute performance of Riverdance during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest amazed millions of television viewers.

The spectacular went on to become one of the biggest ever musical shows and was a box office smash wherever it went.

It went on several tours of the US where it went down a storm with the Irish-American community.

But just as the show reached its peak, Flatley quit after 90 performances following a dispute with Riverdance creator Moya Doherty.

He decided to go on his own, working on a new dance routine for his own event.

His first success was with Lord Of The Dance, which also became an international success.

And earlier this year Flatley went on tour with his Feet Of Flames show.

He even played a spectacular open-air concert at the North's government buildings at Stormont last summer.

However, as Flatley went off to make a career on his own, Jean stayed with Riverdance and found a new dancing partner in Colin Dunne.

She left in 1996, concerned about the physical strain the show was having on her.

But now pals say Jean hopes to put her business failure and financial worries behind her and start again with boyfriend Cuan.
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Article Details
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Author:Tallant, Nicola
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 24, 2000
Words:905
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