About the Company

 

Since 1979, Footworks has delighted audiences of all ages and cultures in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and Finland. Footworks thrilled audiences as guest artists in the London run of Riverdance and was honored to be one of eight groups chosen to represent American culture in Japan on a tour with the Smithsonian Institution.

Footworks, considered pioneers in bringing traditional Americana music and percussive dance to the concert stage, has performed in such venues as The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, and Wolftrap Farm Park for the Performing Arts. More recently, the company performed at Merlefest in North Carolina, created and performed a city-wide residency in Long Beach, California with the Smithsonian Institution, and performed at the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado.

Founding director Eileen Carson Schatz received a two year National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship, a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, a Celebration of the Arts in Maryland Award, an “Annie Award” form the Arts Council of Anne Arundel County, and was selected “Artist of the Year” by 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 artists as Tony Rice, Tim O’Brien, Bela Fleck, and Nickel Creek.

The roots of Footworks are planted deep. The year 1971 saw the 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 to popularize traditional Appalachian clogging and was one of the first teams to carry the form from competition stages to performing arts venues. In 1979, three of these dancers, including Eileen Carson Schatz, went on to form the Fiddle Puppet Dancers.

The Fiddle Puppet Dancers, who changed their name to Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble in 1994, are renowned 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. The company continues to grow and evolve, securing the funds to create new works and productions.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Footworks receives the support and funding of local, state, and national arts organizations, including the Maryland State Arts Council, The Arts Council of Anne Arundel County and the City of Annapolis. The company is dedicated to bringing live music and the power and joy of percussive dance to audiences the world over.

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