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Jigue Time: Québécois Power Trio Genticorum Returns to Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance

Join us Friday, May 5, for contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 p.m. with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 p.m.

David Smukler

This month’s caller is Syracuse, N.Y.-based David Smukler. Active on the dance circuit in the Northeast for over thirty years—and a favorite among Flying Shoes regulars—David is also a traditional-dance scholar and writer, and a prolific creator of new dances. Sharing the Flying Shoes stage with David will be:

Genticorum: Pascal Gemme, Yann Falquet, Nicholas Williams (left to right)

Genticorum

The Belfast Flying Shoes dance series is excited to welcome for their return visit one of the top bands on the Québécois traditional music scene. Over the past decade and a half, Genticorum has produced five CDs, played hundreds of concerts in some 20 countries, and earned four Canadian Folk Music Awards. Renowned for its intricate vocal harmonies, the trio roots its sound in the powerfully rhythmic Québécois dance vernacular, which it renders with a raw, joyous energy that should make this event truly memorable.

Pascal Gemme—fiddle
Yann Falquet—guitar & bass
Nicholas Williams—piano & accordion

Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contra Dance is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 20, and $5 for children. All-Comers musicians get a $2 discount. Bring along a window fan and get $1 off. For more information: call 338-0979, email us at belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com, or visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org. Find us on Facebook too!

Our Brains On Dancing

Photo by Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Ever wonder if there’s more to community dancing and contra dancing than the temporal pleasure you derive from it? A recent New York Times article explains, “A new study that compared the neurological effects of country dancing with those of walking and other activities suggests that there may be something unique about learning a social dance.” Thanks to the BFS dancer who alerted us to this article! (Wait ’til you see the closing suggestion!) A similar article in the Denver Post makes the contra connection even more explicit.

Here’s a link to the original journal article in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Local Food Movement Inspires Local Foot Movement: Sassafras Stomp Returns to Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance, Friday, April 7, 2017, with Caller Chrissy Fowler

Join us for an evening of contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 pm with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 pm.

Chrissy Fowler

This month’s caller is Belfast’s own Chrissy Fowler. A founder and leading light of the Belfast Flying Shoes dance series, Chrissy spreads the joy of contra dancing also at schools, community gatherings, and private events. With wit and good cheer, Chrissy keeps things spicy enough for veteran dancers while making novices feel equally welcome. Sharing the Flying Shoes stage with Chrissy will be:

Sassafras Stomp

Adam Nordell & Johanna Davis

With roots in Maine and Montana, Sassafras Stomp’s Johanna Davis and Adam Nordell tend roots of a more literal sort at their organic Songbird Farm in Unity. As the string duo Sassafras Stomp, they play a coast-to-coast slate of concerts, workshops, weddings, and dances. The band’s website describes their fiddle-and-guitar sound as “sweet, high-energy folk music.” Threading freely through the Celtic, New England, Acadian, and old time traditions, it’s a style that feels contemporary yet, appropriately enough, deep-rooted.

John Pranio Photo by John Clarke Russ

Joining Johanna and Adam will be multi-instrumentalist and local legend John Pranio. Co-founder of the North Whitefield Contra Dance, a member of the Henry Road Band, and a favorite instructor at Maine Fiddle Camp, Pranio is known for his elegant musicianship, unerring good taste, and tireless efforts to make Beatles music part of the standard contra dance repertoire.

  • Johanna Davis—fiddle
  • Adam Nordell—guitar and foot percussion
  • John Pranio—fiddle, banjo, harmonica, and mandolin
  • Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contra Dance is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 20 and adult All-Comers, and $5 for children. Bring along a window fan and get $1 off. For more information: call 338-0979, or email us at belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook too!

Songbird Farm & Sassafras Stomp!

Johanna Davis Adam Nordell, Photo by Linda Coan O’Kresik

Sassafras Stomp musicians Johanna Davis & Adam Nordell are in the spotlight! Check out this Bangor Daily News piece about their alter egos as organic farmers on their Songbird Farm in Unity. The article includes photos, video, and plenty of tasty tidbits to whet your appetite for their April 7 appearance at the Belfast Flying Shoes contra dance.

Studfinder, Coat Hooks, and Screw Guns! Oh My!

Check out the coat hooks installed by an awesome volunteer crew, including Julia Plumb, Joanne Moesswilde, David Landmann, American Legion member Rick Marsden, and BFS board members Alex Mann and Chris Barstow. Chris, in particular, invested lots of her time and energy to bring the idea of coat hooks to fruition. We’re grateful to American Legion Post 43 for letting us add the new coat hooks to their hall. (We’re also really thankful that the Legion chose such beautiful hardwood to replace their floor. Maple is a classic wood for dance floors, and, in this season of sugaring, it will be especially sweet to dance on it!)

Dancing for Seven Straight Days!

CDSS camp

Imagine a week of dancing, on gorgeous, open-air dance floors, to stellar music and calling, with tasty food, waterfront fun, a variety of workshops, and plenty of camaraderie. Delightful, right?

That’s what happens at the Country Dance & Song Society (CDSS) summer camps around the country. Some camp weeks even include special mini-courses, including ones for teachers and for music teachers and community leaders.

Because Belfast Flying Shoes is a CDSS affiliate, we can request priority admission for someone planning to attend one of the camps in 2017. (The camper may be guaranteed a spot at the camp or mini-course, bypassing a potential lottery for admission.) If you want BFS to consider nominating you for priority admission, email belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com by March 7.

Another CDSS affiliate in Maine is the statewide, nonprofit DownEast Friends of the Folk Arts (DEFFA). Again this year, DEFFA will award one $350 scholarship to support a DEFFA member’s attendance at a CDSS camp. Applications are due by March 7, and can be found, along with more details, here.

The Gawler Family and the All-Comers Band

The Gawler Family Band

Since January, the Belfast Flying Shoes All-Comers Band has been capably—and joyfully—led by the Gawler Family: Molly, Edith, Elsie, John & Ellen Gawler and Bennett Konesni. Their collective joyfulness is essential to preserving the accessible, inclusive, and “come all ye” spirit of the madcap ensemble of musicians that play for our monthly BFS Community Dances.

You can read more about how the Gawlers help Maine music traditions thrive in this brilliant article by Bangor Daily News correspondent Abigail Curtis.

Come on out every first Friday, with your instrument in hand, and join the All-Comers Band. What joy!

Time to Get Down! Old Grey Goose Joins Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance: Friday, March 3, 2017, with Caller Chrissy Fowler

Join us for an evening of contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 pm with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band—led with rousing enthusiasm by the amazing Gawler Family. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 pm.

Chrissy Fowler

This month’s caller is Belfast’s own Chrissy Fowler. A founder and leading light of the Belfast Flying Shoes dance series, Chrissy spreads the joy of contra dancing also at schools, community gatherings, and private events. With wit and good cheer, she keeps things spicy enough for veteran dancers while making novices feel equally welcome. Sharing the Flying Shoes stage with Chrissy will be:

Old Grey Goose

Eric Rolfson, Carter Newell , Jeff “Smokey” McKeen & Doug Protsik (l to r)

Flying Shoes are tapping in anticipation as Maine contra dance legend Old Grey Goose makes its way to Belfast for our March dance. A band since 1977, the members of Old Grey Goose are among Maine’s most prominent and beloved players, collectors, teachers, and exponents of traditional New England music. While holding down day jobs that range from oyster farmer (Smokey McKeen) to Maine Fiddle Camp director (Doug Protsik), the band also tours the world as Old Grey Goose International, sharing the music they love, to date, in Mongolia, Mauritania, Israel, Jordan, Benin, Cuba, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Algeria, and Poland.

  • Carter Newell—fiddle & foot percussion
  • Jeff “Smokey” McKeen—guitar, accordion & bones
  • Eric Rolfson—bass
  • Doug Protsik—fiddle, accordion & piano
  • Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contra Dance is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 20 and adult All-Comers, and $5 for children. Bring along a window fan and get $1 off. For more information: call 338-0979, or email us at belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook too!

Dancing & Singing as a Curriculum of Kindness

This video from Sunday TODAY is so relevant for our BFS outreach work in schools!  Plus, it’s a thrill to see and hear the fabulous Adam Nordell & Johanna Davis (Sassafras Stomp) rocking the dance hall in their wintertime home state.

“In the small town of Bynum, Montana, students start each morning with a song and dance in what has become a tradition that helps build a ‘sense of who they are when they go out into the bigger world.’ NBC’s Harry Smith reports for Sunday TODAY on the curriculum of kindness.”

Adam & Johanna elaborate, “Our friends at the two-room school in Bynum are famous! We make a cameo appearance, along with our square dance caller friend, Chelle Karcher.  Bynum teachers Susan Luinstra and Abby Armstrong are getting some well-deserved attention for maintaining the 80-year deep social-dance tradition in their school.”

Rise to the Occasion! Anadama Returns to Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance: Friday, February 3, 2017, with Caller Sarah VanNorstrand

VENUE CHANGE – Feb 3 ONLY – Blue Goose on US Rte 1 in Northport, just south of Belfast.”

Bethany Waickman, Amelia Mason, and Emily Troll (left to right)

Join us for an evening of contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast Blue Goose on US Rte 1 in Northport, just south of Belfast. The evening begins at 6:30 pm with a Community Dance called by Chrissy Fowler and with music by the All-Comers Band—now led with rousing enthusiasm by the amazing Gawler Family. All musicians are welcome to sit in. Fun and simple dances will be taught, giving beginners the opportunity to learn new skills and offering experienced dancers a chance to brush up on their steps. The Contra Dance begins at 8:00 pm.

Please Note: Due to construction at the Belfast Legion Hall, our February dance may will be in an alternate location.

Sarah VanNorstrand

This month’s caller is Sarah VanNorstrand. An avid contra dancer since her teens, Sarah co-founded a contra prom at her high school in upstate New York. Since her debut as a caller in 2006, she has built a nationwide following with a style that combines clarity, enthusiasm, and an infectious sense of joy. Sharing the stage with Sarah will be perennial Flying Shoes favorite, the accordion-fortified fun machine …

Anadama

Boston-based contra dance band Anadama is Amelia Mason, Emily Troll, and Bethany Waickman, who root their sound in the traditions of New England, Ireland, and Quebec. As the trio say: “It is dynamic, earthy music, all—from sweetly rolling jigs to breathless, freewheeling reels—played with vigor and honesty, and dance at its heart.” Anadama’s last Flying Shoes dance was a corker, and we expect nothing less for this go-round.

  • Amelia Mason—fiddle
  • Emily Troll—accordion
  • Bethany Waickman—guitar

Sound by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contra Dance is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 13 to 20 and adult All-Comers, and $5 for children. Bring along a window fan and get $1 off. For more information: call 338-0979, email us at belfastflyingshoes@gmail.com, or visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org. Find us on Facebook too!