Blog

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!

Start the Year on a High Note! Gawler Family to Play Belfast Flying Shoes Contra Dance: Friday, January 6, 2017, with Caller Chrissy Fowler

Join us for an evening of contra dancing at American Legion Post #43, 143 Church Street in Belfast. The festivities begin 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 Contradance 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:

The Gawler Family

Edith Gawler, Ellen Gawler, John Gawler, Elsie Gawler, Bennett Konesni, and Molly Gawler (left to right)

The Gawler Family is Ellen and John Gawler—leading lights of Maine’s traditional music and dance community—their multitalented daughters, Molly, Edith, and Elsie, and Edith’s husband, Bennett Konesni. The Gawlers have charmed audiences across the Northeast with their sparkling musicianship and irresistible good cheer. Drawing on an extensive repertoire of Down East, Scots-Irish, Swedish, and French Canadian tunes, this fun-loving, foot-stomping string band will put wings on your feet and a smile on your face.

  • John Gawler—banjo, guitar, harmonica
  • Ellen Gawler—fiddle
  • Molly Gawler—fiddle
  • Edith Gawler—fiddle, banjo
  • Elsie Gawler—cello
  • Bennett Konesni—guitar, banjo

Sound provided by Eric Weest Johnson

Admission to the Community Dance is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Admission to the Contradance 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!

Fond Farewell to Phyllis

Phyllis (center) with the All-Comers Band at our Community Dance on Dec. 2, 2016

Our 11th anniversary dance marked a watershed moment for Belfast Flying Shoes, and for someone we dearly love: Our co-founder, bandleader, board member, past board president, dance partner, and wonderful friend, Phyllis Buchanan.

This month, Phyllis is moving back to Greenwood, where she has built a new house on her old farm in western Maine… just slightly beyond commuting distance from the All-Comers Bandstand. Dang it all! We are very excited for Phyllis, who is rejoining a community where she has many old—and young—friends, many of whom she welcomed into the world, as a midwife. Still, Greenwood’s gain is Belfast’s loss, and she will be especially missed here at the Flying Shoes dance.

So many of the good things about Belfast Flying Shoes are a direct reflection of who Phyllis is and a direct result of her contributions. For example, she brought us the annual birthday party dance complete with wacky hats, mirror ball necklaces, All-Comers name banners, and innovative celebratory treats (mosai-cake, cupcake tower, and cookies & clementines). We fellow board members will miss her level-headedness, her dedication to planning, and also her constant reminders to stay focused on the fun.

A huge part of that fun has been the Community Dance, where the All Comers Band has has enjoyed Phyllis’s leadership, musicianship, and friendship—with a bit of wildness tossed in—and we’ve all enjoyed the beautiful results.

To express our love and gratitude, the board gathered up some gifts…

  • A vase, made by regular All-Comers musician Jody Johnstone, symbolizes the way that Phyllis has held the All Comers Band together, and the way she has held and preserved the founding dream of the dance and carried it along.
  • Some KEVA blocks, that were decorated by folks who attended the Dec 2 dance. Blocks are for building, and Phyllis has been a builder–of the dance, of the band, and of the community. We know she’ll think of us when she’s playing with her grandchildren.
  • A rock with just one word on it: Joy…

We will all miss Phyllis, but we’re not grumbling. Well, we are grumbling, but we’re also learning from the graceful, lighthearted way that she’s handling this transition. This is what loving non-attachment looks like.

Thank you Phyllis, and we’ll be happy to see you when you come back to visit on first Fridays!

Giving Thanks: BFS Outreach

The mission of Belfast Flying Shoes (BFS) is to bolster the spirited dance community in midcoast Maine. Our nonprofit exists because we–BFS dancers, musicians, founders, and board members–love contra dancing. We want to do it, we want to make it happen, and we want to share it with others.

We are thrilled that contra dancing has become a normal part of our local culture, and that so many people have heard of contra dancing, even if they’ve never done it themselves. BFS cultivates this culture of traditional music and dance through our monthly community and contra dances … and through a variety of outreach efforts.

Since 2008, BFS has provided partial funding for contra dance residencies in local schools. This year, thanks to generous funding from an anonymous donor, we expanded our educational outreach—and we want to celebrate! In 2016, BFS outreach funds helped support:

  • Period dance workshops, set in the 18th century, for the Penobscot Expedition (the Game Loft’s Coming of Age Program)
  • A weeklong residency in dancing, music, and local history on the island of Monhegan
  • Multi-visit music, movement, and contra dance residencies in several Waldo County schools and preschools

Monhegan elder Sherm Stanley described dancing in his youth this way: “We had a lot of grand times. Everybody danced.” In this season of giving thanks, we are grateful for the positive energy and joy generated as “everybody danced” in the programs supported by our 2016 outreach funds.

We’re extremely excited to continue this outreach in 2017!

With gratitude,
The BFS Board of Directors

Game Loft directors Patricia and Ray Estabrook, dancing in 18c style.
Game Loft directors Patricia and Ray Estabrook, dancing in 18c style.
A school residency's culminating dance, from the perspective of the Belfast Bay Fiddlers.
A school residency’s culminating dance, from the perspective of the Belfast Bay Fiddlers.
Students, staff, musicians and caller after a packed dance in Monhegan's one-room schoolhouse.
Students, staff, musicians and caller after a packed dance in Monhegan’s one-room schoolhouse.

Magnetic North: Cardinal Direction to Play Belfast Flying Shoes 11th Birthday Contra Dance Friday, December 2, 2016, with Caller Will Mentor

Join us for an evening of contra dancing–and celebrate our 11th birthday!–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. We’ll break out the fruit and cookies at our mid-dance intermission.

Will Mentor
Will Mentor

This month’s caller is Will Mentor. Will hails from northern Vermont, where he also teaches fine art at Saint Michael’s College, in Burlington. On the dance stage, Will is known for his relaxed, upbeat presence and for choreographing fun and sometimes surprising sequences of dances and tempos.

Providing the tunes will be:

Cardinal Direction

From the band’s website: “Cardinal Direction (formerly Firefly) brings beautiful melodies and relentless energy to dance floors and listening audiences across the Northeast. Their repertoire is drawn from the Irish, New England, and Quebecois traditions, and seamlessly mixes oldies-but-goodies with modern compositions.”

Supporting Cedar Stanistreet (on fiddle) and Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens (on clarinet and banjo) with fresh Maine-made grooves will be local favorite Jamie Oshima on guitar, piano, and foot percussion.

  • Cedar Stanistreet—fiddle
  • Rebecca Bosworth-Clemens—clarinet & banjo
  • Jamie Oshima—guitar, piano & foot percussion

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!