The Footworks Percussion Dance Ensemble performs “Incredible Feets!” »Today at the museum

Today, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts presents a dance performance from the Maryland-based Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble.

From 1979, Footworks was a pioneering force in traditional root-based music and percussive dance. They always perform with live music and their exciting percussive dances include step, rubber boot, tap dance and hamboning. Most people have been exposed to jig and tap dancing, but what are hamboning and gumbooting? I had to look for them.

According to Wikipedia, hamboning is described as “a musical technique that uses the human body as an instrument”, specifically by striking the thigh (hambone). “The gumboot (or Isicathulo) dance is an African dance performed by dancers wearing Wellington boots. In South Africa, they are more commonly called rubber boots. The boots can be embellished with bells, so that they ring as the dancers trample the floor. The unifying element is the percussive dance, which is exciting to watch. It awakens the minds of the public and Footworks are also known for engaging audiences in their performances. It sounds very spellbinding! I think this performance is not to be missed.

The Footworks dance ensemble began in 1994, with founder Ann Carson Schatz and music director Mike Schatz at the helm, according to the group’s website, These two transdisciplinary artists, one dancer-choreographer, the other musician-composer, have shaped a unique performing arts troupe that is well known in international traditional arts circles. Footworks performed in the London Riverdance Race and was one of eight groups chosen to represent American culture in Japan on a tour with the Smithsonian Institution. Footworks produced an original work in Baltimore as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner”.

Footworks has performed traditional American music and percussive dances at Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Lincoln Center in New York, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in Scotland, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, Maryland; Wolf Trap Farm Park for the performing arts in Vienna, Virginia, and at the Vail International Dance Festival (Colo.). In 2014, Footworks performed at the 25th International Bluegrass Music Awards of the International Bluegrass Music Association. Filmed live at the Memorial Theater at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina, the awards ceremony was part of the 2015 US Public Television “Music City Roots” series. aired in 71 PBS markets across the United States. .

During the 1970s, Carson traveled to Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee to study traditional Appalachian music and dance, which became fundamental to his work, according to information on the website. As the group formed and became better known, Footworks were invited to participate in international festivals.

During these tours of North American and European music and dance festivals, Carson and Schartz were exposed to a broader base of percussive dance and international traditional music. During their international travels, they met and learned from traditional artists and began to incorporate various traditions into their performances. Now their performances include styles of dance and music from Ireland, Scotland, England, Quebec, Cape Breton and Africa. They also learned and incorporated traditional African American dance.

Footworks Founding Director Eileen Carson Schatz is a member of the National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellow and has twice received the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Choreography (1997, 2014). For more than 35 years, Carson has held many positions at Footworks including art director, entertainer, choreographer, singer, songwriter, teacher and arts integration specialist.

In 1974, Carson began dancing with the Green Grass Cloggers, a traditional North Carolina clogging group. Then in 1979 she danced with Fiddle Puppet Dancers and in 1994 the group changed their name to Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble to reflect the expansion of the repertoire into a multicultural collection of percussion dances. Carson began to adapt traditional social dance figures into the group’s choreography to create new steps and rhythms. She develops staging and associated theater shows. In the Arts in Education area, she is a Certified Teaching Artist, teaching Integrated Arts Residencies in schools in Maryland and beyond, and was selected Artist of the Year by Young Audiences / Arts for Learning Maryland. .

Footworks Music Director Mark Schatz has received numerous awards, including the 2015 MSAC Individual Artist Award for Unclassical Musical Composition. He began formal musical training with the cello at the age of 10 and then moved on to the double bass. His first performance was in 1971 on electric bass in a high school rock band. Inspired by the love of folk and traditional music, he began to play the guitar and the mandolin. He graduated in Music Theory and Composition from Haverford College in Philadelphia and studied for a year at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He started playing the banjo and went to his first old-fashioned violin festival in Fiddler’s Grove, North Carolina. He also began to learn how to sabotage, inspired by his work with Mandala, a Boston-based folk dance group. In 1977, he met Bela Fleck, a 16-time Grammy Award-winning banjoist, which led to recording projects including “Drive” and “Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Volume II, The Bluegrass Sessions”.

In 1983, Schatz moved to Nashville, Tenn., Where he played country music on electric bass. In 1985, he joined the Tony Rice Unit, which pursues “spacegrass” music. From 1990 to 1998, Schatz performed with Tim O’Brien as one of the O’Boys, a trio that explored the fusion of many traditional genres, including reggae and bluegrass. O’Boys consisted of O’Brien on mandolin, bouzouki, violin and vocals, Scott Nygaard on guitar and Mark Schatz on bass and clawhammer banjo.

In the 1990s, Schatz began his association with The Fiddle Puppet Dancers (later Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble), while continuing to perform with O’Brien. He released a solo recording in 1995, “Brand New Old Tyme Way” on Rounder Records. The recording was produced by Fleck and included Schatz’s claw banjo playing and original compositions. From 1998 to 2002, he expanded his role with Footworks, becoming their musical director and producing two albums and two videos for the group. Simultaneously, he pursued independent projects with Fleck, Laurie Lewis, John Hartford, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.

He started touring with his own band called Mark Schatz and Friends and produced a new solo album titled “Steppin ‘in the Boiler House”. He played bass with Nickel Creek from 2003 to 2007 and performed on their album “Why Should The Fire Die”. From 2008 to present, he has played bass for The Claire Lynch Band, where he adds color and variety to shows with hambone, clawhammer The Banjo and The Clogging. Schatz joined Nickel Creek in 2014 to record “A Dotted Line”, and was part of the band’s reunion tour in the spring and summer. The recording received two Grammy nominations in the Best American Roots Performance and Best Americana Album categories.

Other members of Footworks include co-director and lead dancer, Emily Crews; major cancers Christine Galante, Agi Kovacs, Rebecca Powers, Kim Rivers; and Rehearsal Captain / Principal Dancer, Marsha Searle. Musicians include Jordan Tice on guitar, John Glik and Patrick McAvinue on violin, and Mark Delaney on banjo.

Just three weeks away from Western Maryland Blues Fest, audiences are invited to enjoy a unique streak with this live music and dance performance from Footworks.

Rebecca Massie Lane is director of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.

If you are going to:

WHAT: Amazing feet! Dance Show by Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. today

O: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, 401 Museum Drive, Hagerstown

COT: $ 10; free for museum members and 12 years old and under

CONTACT: Go to or call 301-739-5727

MORE: Sponsored in part by a touring grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and Judy and Winslow Wheeler.

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