Review: Footwerx The Cobolt Mission

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By Debra Danese for the Philadelphia Dance Journal

The resounding sounds of taps filled the Wilma Theater Friday, July 30, 2016 as GTA Entertainment presented Footwerx The Cobolt Mission. Directed, produced and choreographed by Footwerx Artistic Director, Darrell Williams, the performance was a culmination of a week- long tap intensive available to area dance students.  Over 30 students represented Dance Fusion, Wayne Ballet, Let’s Dance Studio, Joan’s Dance Studio, Oxford Center for Dance, and Time to Leap Dance.

Mr. Williams took the stage prior to the performance to greet the audience and acknowledge special guests. He mentioned during this time that tap dance is not just about the steps; it’s about the musicality. It was evident he instilled this into his workshop dancers as they took the stage for a spy-themed production.

The show opened with a group of dancers being given a Bond-like assignment to find a stolen sapphire. Clever digital design was projected to introduce the espionage mission and “agents” of the IMF (Impossible Mission Footwerx) Organization. IMF was in a race with rival organization, Cobolt, to secure the precious stone. In order to succeed, IMF infiltrated the Youth World Leadership Conference, which was traveling around the world to learn about other cultures. Although this theme was threaded throughout the performance, I was never quite clear on who represented the Cobolt Agency. However, this did not deter from the exceptional dancing by the ensemble.

Various groups of dancers, ranging in age from 7 and up, took the stage and displayed the musicality Mr. William’s previously mentioned. The music was up-tempo and diverse while still being age appropriate and family-friendly. The choreography by Mr. Williams and assistant choreographers Matt Soojian, Emily Brong and Brielle Johnson showcased the dancer’s skills at their various levels. Erin Lilly was a stand-out during the group pieces. Her natural stage presence and technique seemed effortless. It was also entertaining to see many of the students featured with solo work.  Alexa Taylor was a highlight as she attacked the choreography during her solos. However, it was unfortunate that the taps were sometimes overpowered by the volume of the music.

As part of the plot, students traveled to various cities which were recognized by the projected images and music. This added a nice variety of music and dancing. While in Ireland, the audience had the opportunity to see the full cast perform together. The Irish inspired choreography took on a clogging feel and was reminiscent of Riverdance. The Bollywood number and jazz dances showed off the dancer’s versatility.  Lead dancer, Emily Brong, especially proved to be a diverse entertainer throughout the performance.

It was a pleasant surprise during Act II when Mr. Williams took to the stage again; this time to dance with Brielle Johnson, Matt Soojian and D’Andria Williams (William’s daughter.) A call and response was led by Mr. Williams. The complicated and lengthy rhythms created by Williams were then repeated back. A dancer who missed a step exited the stage. Williams was left on stage with his daughter who held her own against the hoofing master.

About Debra Danese

Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.

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1 Comment

  1. From the moment I saw my first Footwerx production 4 years ago I have become enthralled in the raw talent that these dancers display. It has inspired me, an late 30s woman to leave my comfort zone and begin to take adult tap lessons under the direction of Mr. Darrell. The hard work, dedication, passion, and drive that all of these dancers show is absolutely amazing and inspiring. My daughter has been lucky enough to join this group and I have to say on stage and off stage these dancers are a family and it is led by some really outstanding people! I look forward to the Christmas show!!! Footwerx Tap Company never disappoints!!!

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