For performance group Footworks, bright city lights and enchanting foreign lands can't beat the reliable charm of home.
The renowned percussive dance ensemble will be kicking off its 25th season with its seventh annual hometown performance at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis, where the group has been based since starting as the Fiddle Puppet Dancers in 1979.
Success has followed the group on its 25-year journey of travels, both national and international, a switch from grassroots to a nonprofit organization in 1994, followed by a name change to Footworks the same year.
"I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams that we would come this far," said artistic director Eileen Carson, who has been there from the beginning, along with musical director Mark Schatz and dancer Matthew Olwell, who began working with the group at age 12.
Their anniversary performance will bring together the art and experiences of the group since its conception. It will include performances by two of the co-founders and a flamenco routine from Edwin Aparicio and Anna Menendez, accompanied by guitarist Richard Marlow.
Old favorites from the Footworks repertoire will be featured along with new pieces that culminate in a performance that includes English and American clogging, Irish dance, African-American tap and rapier sword dancing.
Music will also play a role as Schatz's string band, with two guests, will get things moving with the fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals from Carson herself.
Carson said she is proud of the group's ability to bring in another generation of performers, with the Footworks Junior Company, which will also appear in the show.
"We've planted our seeds everywhere," she said. "Pioneered, educated, inspired others and preserved tradition, all while innovating."
Celebrating the group's accomplishments with a hometown show, Carson said, is fitting even though there were opportunities for the ensemble to perform elsewhere in the country.
"We've done a lot of big venues," she adds. "But of the many shows and productions we do, it's sentimental for us to bring to our local community something special."
The Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble will present its 25th Season Kick-Off Celebration tomorrow night at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, at 8 p.m. A pre-performance reception is at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20-$25. Call 410-263-5544 or visit www.mdhallarts.org.
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