Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble
Footworks presents a music and dance revue that celebrates the world of percussive dance, with traditional percussive dances from Ireland, England, South Africa, Canada and the American South as well as hamboning, hoofin' and early jazz tap. The influences of these joyful traditions also come together in original, innovative pieces choreographed by Footworks.
Footworks thrilled audiences as guest artists in the London run of Riverdance and was honored to be chosen to represent American culture in Japan on a tour with the Smthsonian Institution, Considered pioneers in bringing traditional Americana music and percussive dance to the concert stage, Footworks has performed at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Wolftrap Farm Park for the Performing Arts. Recently they performed at Merlefest in North Carolina.
Founding Director Eileen Carson-Schatz received a 2-year National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, a Celebration of the Arts in Maryland Award, and was selected "Artist of the Year" in 2006 for Young Audiences of Maryland. Music Director Mark Schatz is a celebrated artist in Americana music, best known for his award-winning acoustic bass and claw hammer banjo playing and has performed and recorded with such Grammy Award winning artist as Tony Rice, Tim O'Brien, Bela Fleck, and Nickel Creek. Mark and Eileen are featured on John Hartford Stringband's CD, Memories of John that was nominated for 2011 Grammy's Best Traditional Folk Album.
Footworks' roots are planted deep, starting with the 1971 formation of the Green Grass Cloggers, whose love of traditional Southern Appalachian music and dance inspired them to seek out and learn from the old-time buck dancers and flatfooters of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. The group helped popularize traditional Appalachian clogging and was one of the first teams to carry the form from competition stages to the performing arts venues. In 1979, three of these dancers formed the Fiddle Puppet Dancers.They changed the name to Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble in 1994, after gaining renown for respecting the integrity of traditional dance while gaining recognition for it as a performing art.
In search of the origins and relatives of Southern Appalachian clogging and flatfooting, Footworks went on to collaborate with and enlist masters of many forms of traditional percussive dance, including Irish, Scottish, English, Quebecois, Cape Breton, South African and African American. This resulted in their unique theater productions presented nationally and internationally, receiving great reviews and enthusiastic responses from audiences and presenters.
Today Footworks remains true to the traditions of Southern Appalachian music and dance while celebrating connected roots and branches. Each principle artist adds to the authenticity of Footworks' presentations by bringing his or her own cultural background in traditional arts. Each ensemble member is also committed to teaching and supports the company's dedication to Arts-In-Education. During their October 2011 visit to Hampshire County the Hampshire County Arts Council takes Footworks to Springfield-Greenspring Elementary School to present to the students.