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     Did you hear the one about the tap dancing biochemist? No?
Actually, it’s no joke … On March 21 at Methodist University’s Reeves Auditorium there will be a tap dancing biochemist hoofing across the stage, along with a molecular geneticist, a software engineer and a second-grade teacher. This seemingly disparate group of professionals make up the Footnotes Tap Ensemble, a nonprofit, Research Triangle-based professional tap company dedicated to bringing tap to the masses.
     {mosimage} Co-founder Mimi Benjamin — who works as a physician when she’s not treading the boards along with the other members of Footnotes — says everyone in the troupe holds down a “day” job, though their real passion is the dance.
“All of our dancers work regular jobs,” said Benjamin, who founded Footnotes in 2005 with former dance school classmate Robin Vail, “but they find time to put their careers on the backburner to entertain and educate people about tap dancing.”
     Benjamin says dance fans that show up at Methodist on March 21 will be treated to a display of old-fashioned tap done in the style of some of the legends, including a tribute to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
     “We will perform three different types of tap,” said Benjamin. “We’ve worked hard to preserve the old historic dances. Among the ones we’ll be doing is ‘New Lowdown,’ made famous by Mr. Bojangles, himself.
     “We’ll also be doing ‘The Walkaround’ that was previously performed by the great Henry Robinson,” said Benjamin. “We also have dances we’ve commissioned from contemporary choreographers Dorothy Wasserman and Lane Alexander, as well as our own compositions. People are usually very surprised at the variety of what makes up tap dancing.”
     In addition to bringing some of their own dance creations with them, Footnotes will also bring its own band, consisting of a pianist, bassist, drummer, singer, banjoist and sax player/flautist.
     And while Footnotes will certainly bring the noise, Methodist brings a little something special itself that will contribute mightily to the performance: “The floor on that stage (Reeves Auditorium) is just legendary,” said Benjamin. “It’s got a great reputation as being an extraordinary wood stage.”
     In addition to a widespread reputation for its dancing abilities, Footnotes is also well known for its educational programs, bringing tap classes and workshops into communities across the region — workshops and classes that attract a broad spectrum of participants.
     “There are so many different styles of tap that can be performed in conjunction with so many different types of music,” said Benjamin. “I mean, when we hit the stage we have to appeal to all ages, from 4 to 80. And a lot of these folks get into dance after seeing us perform or attending one of our workshops.”
     The show is scheduled for March 21, 8 p.m., at Reeves Auditorium is entitled “Live Rhythms,” and if you want more information about how you can catch it “live,” call (919) 475-5444 to purchase tickets; tickets are $10 — $5 for students, seniors and NCDA members.
     You can also check out the Footnotes Web site,, for more information about the organization as well as a schedule.

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