Tapping through the Triangle since 2002!
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The Triangle's premier professional adult tap dance company

Footnotes Tap Ensemble, a non-profit professional tap company, was founded by Robin Vail and Mimi Benjamin in 2002. The Ensemble's mission is to promote, educate and perform this truly unique American dance art through annual ensemble concerts, community concerts and tap workshops.

Footnotes brings varied and highly-acclaimed repertoire, and affordable workshops to the community. Footnotes' commissioned works include pieces from Michelle Dorrance, Josh Hilberman, Robert Perera, Dorothy Wasserman, Lane Alexander and Gene Medler, Director of the highly acclaimed North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble.

Footnotes dancers

Blair Jones photo Blair Jones - Artistic Director - Blair Bresson grew up in Chapel Hill and has been studying tap under the mentorship of Gene Medler since age 5. She danced with the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble for 9 years, traveling with the company to perform and take master classes. Blair took a short break from dancing while earning a degree from NC State University, before joining Footnotes in 2014. She works as a Graphic Designer and lives in Raleigh with her husband Joey and their oversized cat, Lenny.
Jennifer Barratt photo Jennifer Barratt started tap dancing before she learned to tie her shoes. Starting off at Dance Spectrums in Lawrenceville, NJ, Jen established a knack for making music with her feet and tapping her way through high school. In college, Jen became the Chair of Performance and Lead Tap Choreographer of Ithaca College’s Unbound Dance Company while juggling lyrical, jazz, and African dance choreography. Also at Ithaca College, Jen completed her Bachelor and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Later, Jen tapped her way down to NC to work as an Occupational Therapist at a sub-acute rehabilitation center in Durham. After joining Whitney Goodman’s advanced tap class at Ninth Street Dance, she was introduced to the Footnotes. Jen is now thrilled to be a member of the Footnotes Tap Ensemble to continue developing her love for rhythm and performing.
Helen Hickey photo Helen Hickey Helen is a teacher and dancer born in Chicago, IL and raised in Chapel Hill, NC. While growing up in Chapel Hill she had the opportunity to study with Gene Medler and was a member of The North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble for five years. With NCYTE, she was able to travel all over the country and perform at many different venues including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She went to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. There, she pursued her love for dance and cultivated her interest in choreography. She then attended Sarah Lawrence College where she received her Master of Fine Arts in Dance and had the opportunity to study with and perform for Sara Rudner, Emily Devine, Rose Anne Thom, Gwen Welliver, Jody Melnick, Maxine Sherman, Rashaun Mitchell and many others. In New York Helen was the assistant for Jody Sperling, Artistic Director of Time Lapse Dance Company, for one semester. She is currently teaching at Barriskill Dance Theatre School in Durham, NC; where she is the Director of the Tap Program and the Production Manager and Choreographer for the Musical Theatre Program; as well as Renner Dance Company, where she is the Tap teacher for two of the competition teams. She is also the Director and founder of Helen Hickey Dance Company. She was a part of Footnotes Tap Ensemble for three years before she graduated from High School and returned in 2017. She is very excited to be a part of the company!
Whitney Lanier photo Whitney Lanier is from Cary, NC and began studying tap, ballet and jazz at an early age. She continued her dancing at East Carolina University where she received her BFA in Dance Education. Whitney became the 2009 recipient of the East Carolina University Outstanding Senior Award in the area of Dance Education. She continues to share her passion for dance as a teacher at Premier School of Dance and joined Footnotes in September 2010.
Angelica Leigh photo Angelica Leigh Angelica Leigh is from Farmington Hills, MI and began studying tap, ballet, jazz, and hip hop at a very early age. At 10 years old it became clear that tap was her favorite and she began training under the tutelage of tap legend Robert Reed. Since then she has trained and taken master classes from tap legends all over the world including Bruce Bradley, Isaac Morgan, Diane Walker, and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards to name a few. She took about a few years off from tap to pursue a B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University and work in corporate America. She is ecstatic to be a member of Footnotes reconnecting with her first love, tap dancing. When she is not tap dancing she is working on her Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Jonah Leslie photo Jonah Leslie grew up in Chapel Hill where he began studying tap under Gene Medler at 12 years old, joining the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble three years later. Since then he has performed onstage from Minnesota to New York to Japan. After a few years’ absence from tap, during which he kept his steps alive dancing in the kitchen and grocery store checkout lines, he joined Footnotes in 2014. Jonah holds a BA in Anthropology from UNC- Chapel Hill, and is currently conducting HIV prevention research at RTI International.
Erin O'Reilly photo Erin O'Reilly began her dance training in Canton, OH and has a minor in Dance from SUNY Fredonia where she studied tap, jazz, ballet and modern dance. She continued her ballet and jazz training at Indiana University where she received a minor in ballet along with her Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics. After moving to Durham, NC in 1998 Erin studied with Gene Medler, was a founding member of Footnotes in 2002 and has since choreographed many original dances for the Ensemble. Erin has studied tap with Michelle Dorrance, Josh Hilberman, Diane Walker, Dorothy Wasserman and Billy Siegenfeld among others.
Julia Pleasants photo Julia Pleasants Julia grew up in Amherst, VA, where she started taking dance lessons at age 6. She owes her deep love of tap to Terri Layne at TERRIfic Time Dance Studio, with whom she spent twelve years dancing competitively and embracing sequins, "happy hair," and (most importantly) smiles. After high school, Julia spearheaded the effort to start a dance program at Washington and Lee University, where she ultimately learned about the non-sequiny side of dance from the incomparable Jenefer Davies and graduated with an English degree. After college, Julia directed the multimedia Dance-a-lorus program at Cucalorus Film Festival for three years in Wilmington, NC before moving to London to complete a Master's degree in Cultural and Creative Industries. She now runs the year-round studios of American Dance Festival in Durham. She and her partner Daniel co-parent a bunny named Snoop.
Caroline Turnage-Butterbaugh photo Caroline Turnage-Butterbaugh is originally from Gaffney, South Carolina. She began dancing at the age of two and studied tap, jazz, and ballet from Miss Marion’s School of Dance until graduating high school in 2002. As an undergraduate at Wofford College studying mathematics and French, she was a member of the Dance Team, and during her MA program in mathematics at Wake Forest University she took her very first rhythm tap course. Several years (and more graduate school) later, she is back in the Carolinas and back to rhythm tap! When she is not tapping with Footnotes, she can be found either at Duke University, where she is a postdoctoral assistant professor of mathematics, or at home with her partner, Ian, and their adorable dog, Pickles.
Laura Wiederhoeft photo Laura Wiederhoeft is originally from Madison, WI where she began dancing with Premier Dance Academy and W. Earle Smith at Madison Ballet. Since then she has studied performing arts of all kinds, playing oboe and piano, singing jazz, and dabbling in musical theater while pursuing a BA in Liberal Studies and French from the University of Oklahoma. She has also worked behind the scenes at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center in College Park, MD. After a hiatus from the arts to earn her BSN at Duke University, Laura is thrilled to join Footnotes to get her feet moving again. When she isn't tapping, she works as a labor and delivery nurse at Duke Regional Hospital.

Guest dancers

Carla Barcelos photo Carla Barcelos studied tap in her home country of Brazil from her youth through college with Susan Baskerville and also assisted in teaching tap. In 2006, Carla moved to the United States and danced with Caitlin Spencer, Director of the Rhythm Room in Greensboro, NC and guest artist with Footnotes. She joined the Ensemble in January 2008.
Mimi Benjamin photo Mimi Benjamin - Footnotes Co-founder - graduated from Brandeis University in 1982 with a degree in Theater Arts. She began a career in Musical Theater in NYC with credits including Up In Central Park (Off-Broadway) and the National tour of Fiddler on the Roof. In 1987 she returned to school and received a MD degree in 1991. Mimi moved to Juneau, Alaska in 2010 to work for the Indian Health Service as a family physician. She continues to teach tap dance and performs with the Perserverance Theater in Douglas, Alaska. In 2012, Mimi performed with "Chicks with Chairs", who won "First Place Marching Group" in the 4th of July Juneau Parade and was featured briefly on an episode of Coastguard Alaska. None of it takes the place of dancing regularly with Footnotes Tap Ensemble, the most fantastic group of dancers in the world.
Jennifer Fenwick photo Jennifer Fenwick was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and began dancing at a young age. She studied tap, jazz and ballet throughout her youth, with tap always being a favorite. While earning her French degree at Webster University in St. Louis, she had the fortune to study tap with Jan Feager Cosby, who introduced her to rhythm tap. Jennifer attended the St. Louis Tap Festival and had the pleasure of taking a master class with Lane Alexander. Jennifer and her husband moved to Durham in the spring of 2014 and she has been dancing with Footnotes since the spring of 2015.
Mary Fletcher Peña photo Mary Fletcher Peña has danced since childhood, focusing in recent years on dance forms that put special emphasis on the feet - flamenco, Irish step dancing, and her favorite, rhythm tap. After studying under Gene Medler as a member of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, Mary was afforded the opportunity to study European dance forms while working in the international arena.
Whitney Goodman photo Whitney Goodman grew up in San Francisco with a love of dance. After moving to Chapel Hill she joined the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble, with whom she performed nationally and abroad for ten years and was influenced by dancers including Michelle Dorrance, Sam Weber, Ted Levy, and Gene Medler. Whitney has worked as a sea turtle researcher and a chocolatier, and now teaches special education in Carrboro. She also teaches adult tap classes at Ninth Street Dance Studio in Durham where she can share her passion for rhythm tap with developing dancers. Whitney joined Footnotes in 2007 and absolutely loves performing for local communities and with her fellow Footnotes members!
Zans McLachlan photo Zans McLachlan began tap dancing with Gene Medler at age eight. He became a founding member of NCYTE (nee The Children's Tap Company) at ten, continuing with the company through high school. Since majoring in Dance and Biology at Swarthmore College, he has taught, choreographed, and performed in North Carolina, Chicago, and Russia. Zans has wide influences, including Honi Coles, Thelonious Monk, Michelle Dorrance, George Clinton, Sam Weber, Duke Ellington, and Gene Medler.
Eliza Parker photo Eliza Parker was chosen as a kid in NC to stand behind-the-scenes during a song and pass fake stones to her chorus-mates in time with the music. This was the first time she understood her ‘thing’ for rhythm. During college, she began modern and ballet dancing. But when an opportunity appeared to take a tap class, she leapt at it with enthusiasm, purchasing unsatisfactory tap shoes before waiting for her teacher’s advice. Now, with a different pair of shoes, rhythm tap has become one of her favorite styles of dance, satisfying her craving to make music and move at the same time. She also loves singing Medieval music, gardening, and working as an Infant Development Specialist.
Brooke Shurer photo Brooke Shurer grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and began dancing at age three. She has studied and competed in many forms of dance, but tap has always been her favorite. She continued tapping through her undergraduate years as a member of the Carolina Style Tap Company at UNC-Chapel Hill. After completing a Ph.D. in Educational Policy at NCSU, she decided to put on her tap shoes again after a decade away (and is so grateful she did!). In addition to tapping, she loves traveling, being outdoors, and directing international programs at Meredith College in Raleigh.
Robin Vail photo Robin Vail - Footnotes Co-founder - received her training in jazz, tap and ballet in San Francisco and Los Angeles. She holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts from UCLA and a minor in Music. In Los Angeles Robin studied with Jim Taylor and Jamie Pisano, and has studied with Gene Medler since 1995. Robin teaches tap, ballet and jazz at The Ballet School of Chapel Hill where she is a partner and the School's administrator. In 2009 her work was selected for the Choreographer's showcase as part of the NC Dance Alliance's Annual Event in Winston-Salem. She is the North Carolina Representative for the International Tap Association and is on the NCYTE board.