The changing of the calendar brought changes for BFS, including transitions on the Board of Directors. At the end of 2023, Alex Mann & Jennifer Armstrong completed their terms and Sunniva Brady & Bella Salman started theirs. Read about Bella & Sunniva on the Leadership page; we are thrilled they have joined the Board!
We’re deeply grateful to our departing board members, Jennifer & Alex, who both were in the first generation of BFS organizers beyond the co-founders. (Alex served continuously since 2012; Jennifer completed her first term in 2015 then returned in 2022 for a second stint.)
Alex Mann dedicated 11 years to Belfast Flying Shoes, including serving as treasurer. A dancer since the late 1970s, he has a keen interest in the living history and culture of social dance traditions. Alex regularly shared interesting tidbits from the Ball-Room Manual of Contra Dances and Social Cotillons Dance Manual that was published in Belfast in 1863, as well as his own research into early dance musicians in Maine. He also helped create the map of 19c dance venues that’s displayed on the third floor of the Belfast Free Library.
To his Board service, Alex brought a steady hand, thoughtful leadership, humility, good humor, and generosity of time and energy. The latter was evidenced in many realms, including his dependability for setup and cleanup on First Fridays. Alex also possessed an unfailingly pleasant demeanor & positive personality. When complex issues were discussed, his calm and measured manner helped maintain the board’s culture of civility and consensus-building.
Known for his grace and sweet smile on the dance floor, Alex’s commitment to preserving and appreciating the good things in life ranges from dance “chestnuts” (repertoire that’s been around for aeons) to the stand of American Chestnuts he cultivates at his home property in Waldo County. We trust he’ll be part of the BFS community for years to come.
Jennifer Armstrong has been an advocate for music and dance all her life, performing and teaching fiddle, banjo, storytelling, and play party dances. As a board member, she provided the nonprofit with a profound understanding of the importance of participatory music and dance. Jennifer helped keep our collective compass pointed at the bright star of community-based arts.
For several years, Jennifer co-led the All Comers Band, bringing exceptional musicianship, a vast repertoire of tunes, and unfailingly cheerful stage presence. A former board colleague reflected on Jennifer’s contributions: “It’s not necessarily a board member function, but, dang, Jennifer has such a sweet southern fiddle rhythm!”
Jennifer nurtured the local music and dance community in her career, too, including sing-along concerts for older adults, storytelling sessions, and school residencies, including several BFS programs. Read more at jenniferarmstrong.com. Her eclectic repertoire ranges from bagpipes to seated square dances, ancient tunes to original songs. And, of course, a healthy dose of fiddle and banjo! Jennifer moved back to the mountains of Asheville NC last spring, but she will be back in Maine every now and then, including at the August weeks of Maine Fiddle Camp. We hope she’ll keep in touch!