+ By Mark Shatz

Eileen Carson Schatz was a complicated and extraordinary woman. She was a beautiful dancer, an expressive and versatile singer, a choreographer, and a dedicated teacher. As Founding Director of The Fiddle Puppet Dancers, which later changed its name to Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, she was a determined artist who never stopped thinking of the next project. She was a National Endowment for the Arts Choreography Fellowship recipient and a certified Maryland Teaching Artist with a gift for working with youth, including teens from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Though her body was failing, she delivered a stellar performance as emcee at Footworks’ 40th Anniversary Concert at Maryland Hall for the Performing Arts on June 8. Just two days before she passed, she taught two classes from her wheelchair at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, MD, where she had been on staff for all of its 25 years. She attended an all-star benefit in her honor at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA the following evening, and was surrounded by the talented and committed musicians and dancers who embodied and expressed her life’s work. There is a large hole in the universe where she used to stand, but her love, laughter, and fire will fill our hearts and lift our spirits always. 

– Mark Schatz