She sings, she dances, she mugs, she gabs, she flaps her arms like a chicken, and her yahoos have nothing to do with the Internet. She is Eileen Carson, founder and artistic director of Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, the kid-oriented troupe that left no tap, stomp, clog, boot or bottle unturned Friday at Thousand Oaks' Scherr Forum.
In other words, its 10-part program "Incredible Feets" tried to cover the percussive-rhythm waterfront, but in so doing, felt more like a slow boat to China. Which isn't to say the six dancers and three musicians (plus Carson warbling) are not technically proficient, just that their approach is overly homogenized.
"Celtic Connections," a hodgepodge of traditional choreography--with additional moves by dancers Maureen Berry and Megan Downes--saw an Irish jig become a waltz, then a hard-shoe reel, with no particular wizardry afoot.
"Southern Suite" included a banal, barefoot Cherokee chant/dance. "Music Is Everywhere and Life Is a Dance" offered a wan South African miners' "Boot Dance," the vaudeville-inspired "Jump Clog" and "Trash Dance," an extended riff with the stage awash in plastic bottles that doubled as percussion instruments.
More successful were Mark Schatz's banjo-picking, Jon Glik's fiddling and Sheridan Minnick's guitar work. Also dancing to beat the band: Kristin Andrews, Heidi Kulas and Matthew Olwell. J'Roi's unflattering costumes (overalls to baby-doll smocks) did not help, although the audience went hog wild, especially when learning to barnyard dance at Carson's behest.