Blog

Sundays in the Park plus Dance Camps

Sundays in the Park:

The July 18th “Sundays in the Park” was a success!!  It was amazing to share live music/dance with so many wonderful folks from near and far, and we appreciated the support of participants as BFS presented our first in-person event since March 2020.

What a treat to explore Irish & Irish-American music and dance with Alden Robinson, Junior Stevens, Miles Isacke, and Jackie O’Riley! The musicians’ workshop, the dance workshop, the concert, and the Belfast Bay Fiddlers’ jam all had healthy attendance, and the donations at the door helped offset some of the program expenses. Thank you to everyone who participated, whether volunteering, playing, dancing, listening, watching, providing sound, or contributing!

We’re looking forward to the remaining Sundays in the Park events on August 22 (Franco-American music/dance) and October 3 (Cape Breton music/dance)!

Here are several video snippets from Sunday, July 18 (including reminders of workshop content).

Music jam with the Belfast Bay Fiddlers on July 18

Dance Camps:

Folks continue to share that they really want to do connected folk dancing again!  Our first Friday series remains on hiatus, and we’ll keep you posted as soon as we’re ready to welcome a hall full of contra dancers and All Comers Band musicians.  Meanwhile… a few trad dance camps are happening this summer, in Maine and beyond! Here’s some info:

Mainewoods Dance Camp – Right here in Fryeburg ME – two different weeks in 2021. Details at mainewoodsdancecamp.org

Ashokan Camps – Some on-site gatherings at the legendary Ashokan Center this summer. Details at ashokancenter.org/camps

CDSS Camps – Openings and Scholarships available for these Country Dance & Song Society camp weeks (more details in their recent e-news) :

Concerts for Older Adults

We got some grant funding to help support our concert series for older adults! Yeah! Read on for the press release, and we’ll let you know when the concerts are available (for viewers of all ages) on cable and Vimeo. Meanwhile, sing and dance whenever possible. ~BFS

Toki Oshima and John Pranio perform at the first “Sing Along and Tap Your Toes” concert on June 16

BFS RECEIVES GRANT FOR CONCERTS: SING ALONG AND TAP YOUR TOES

BELFAST – Belfast Flying Shoes (BFS), a local nonprofit focused on participatory music and dance, was awarded a $5000 Community Building Grant from the Waldo County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation to support their 2021 concert series for older adults: Sing Along and Tap Your Toes.

The program provides joyful in-person musical experiences for older adults in assisted living and congregate care, including those with dementia; cable and online viewers of all ages can tap their own toes and sing along with the recorded concerts. BFS is producing the program in collaboration with Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County (HVOWC) and Belfast Community Media. Additional funding for the program comes from Belfast Flying Shoes contributors and from the Holt Family Fund of the Maine Community Foundation.

“At the first concert in mid-June, we were thrilled by the level of participation. Residents smiled, sang, hummed, and moved with the music, just as we hoped,” said Chrissy Fowler, the board secretary of Belfast Flying Shoes.  “Thanks to this grant, countless others can enjoy the songs and tunes offered by the talented musical acts.” Video recordings of Sing Along and Tap Your Toes concerts will be available via Belfast Community Media’s online and cable channels.

Flic Shooter, HWOWC Director, says, “It’s fabulous that we are able to continue this program. Our concert series with Flying Shoes in 2020, bringing local musicians and our hospice volunteers together, was one of the bright spots in an otherwise dismal year.”

Belfast Flying Shoes was founded in 2005 with a mission to bolster the spirited dance and music community in Midcoast Maine. In addition to this collaboration with HVOWC, their programs include public dances, school residencies, workshops for musicians, and programs at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center. For more information, visit www.belfastflyingshoes.org

Launched in 1990 when Waldo County was the poorest county in New England, the Waldo County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation provides permanent support to nonprofits in the region. Since 1992, the fund has awarded more than 200 grants to support organizations and projects that serve Waldo County. To learn more about the Maine Community Foundation and the Waldo County Fund, visit www.mainecf.org

Sundays in the Park

Sundays in the Park (SiP) is a new BFS program, launched in 2021 in partnership with City of Belfast Parks and Recreation Department and the Belfast Bay Fiddlers, and held at Steamboat Landing on Front Street in Belfast. BYO chair, instrument, and mask — BFS will bring the purple dance boards!

Here’s the schedule (Updated for Oct 3 event!)

  • 2:30 pm ~ Percussive Dance Workshop, to help us discover and practice exciting ways for our shoes to fly
  • 3:30 pm ~ Music Workshop, focusing on a distinctive branch of our contra dance music repertoire
  • 5:00 pm ~ Concert and Showcase, for our guest performers and workshop participants to strut their stuff  — BYO blanket or chair
  • 6:00 pm ~ Open Jam Session, for all instruments and skill levels, hosted by the Belfast Bay Fiddlers  (The BBF welcomes all players who have been vaccinated for Covid-19)

These events are open to the public, with suggested donations to support the program on a sliding scale of “Free to $35”, and we welcome sponsors.

Public Health Guidelines ~ In keeping with guidelines from partners and BFS Board, on Oct 3, we ask everyone to wear a mask, even outdoors, especially those who are not vaccinated for Covid-19. Everyone must wear a mask inside the Boat House (per City guidelines for municipal buildings) and we will limit attendance as needed. The Belfast Bay Fiddlers welcome all jam session attendees who are vaccinated for Covid-19. Contact [email protected] if you have questions.

Katie McNally & Neil Pearlman – Coming Oct 3

October 3 ~ Cape Breton music & dance with Katie McNally (fiddle) and Neil Pearlman (fiddle and Cape Breton step dancing). Learn more about the performers via their websites (Katie, Neil). This final Sundays in the Park event is sponsored by First National Bank.

 

Alden Robinson, Junior Stevens, Miles Isacke

July 18 ~ Irish and Irish-American music & dance with Alden Robinson (fiddle), Christian “Junior” Stevens (button accordion and concertina), Miles Isacke (banjo & guitar) and Jackie O’Riley (sean-nós Irish step dance). Learn more about the performers via their websites (Alden, Junior, Jackie).

Jackie O’Riley

August 22 ~ Franco-American music & dance with Don Roy (fiddle) and Cindy Roy (piano and Franco-American step dancing). Learn more about the Don & Cindy via their website, and get details about their 2018 National Heritage Fellowship award, here, including this video(We had to postpone this event, due to complications of weather and Covid. We will reschedule Don & Cindy sometime in 2022.)

Don & Cindy Roy

Rays of Sunshine June 9

It’s early June in Maine. The days are long and bright, the landscape is awash in color, school is out for the summer, and there are many Rays of Sunshine to acknowledge.

Passings:

We are saddened by the loss of two people who were blazing Rays of Sunshine in our music and dance community, but we are deeply grateful for their luminous impact in the world.

Loell Rodgers died on May 27. Loell was an always-beaming fiddler, horsewoman, outdoors enthusiast, regular BFS All Comers Band musician, and dedicated member of the Belfast Bay Fiddlers who played for countless dances to culminate BFS school residencies. Her smile lit up a room and lifted people’s spirits just as much as her music did. Read more about Loell’s vibrant life here.

Loell Rodgers, on right, playing fiddle in the All Comers Band (when the Legion furnace wasn’t working!)

David Kaynor died on June 1. David was an influential fiddler, composer, caller, and dance organizer from Montague MA. Among other things, he was an inspiration for the BFS co-founders. Read more about David in this recent memorial, in this BFS blog post, and in our tribute in honor of the CDSS Lifetime Contribution Award he received in April.

David Kaynor

BFS Music and Dance Programs:

As we begin to emerge from pandemic conditions, we’re fielding this heartfelt inquiry from many of our dear community members: When will the first Friday BFS dances start up again?  The BFS Board’s answer is: We don’t know. But, we’re definitely talking about it and thinking about it – a lot. We do know that we want the returning First Friday Series to retain the inclusive and welcoming spirit that has been a hallmark of those dances since 2005, and we’ll keep you posted as soon as we have anything to report.

In the meantime, we’re partnering with Belfast Parks & Recreation and the Belfast Bay Fiddlers to launch a new series in July!

“Sundays in the Park” (SiP):

Each glorious event in this new BFS program will have four fabulous facets:

  • music workshop led by Maine musicians,  focusing on a distinctive branch of our contra dance music repertoire
  • percussive dance workshop, to help us discover other ways for our shoes to fly
  • concert and showcase, for our guest performers and workshop participants to strut their stuff
  • open jam session, hosted by the Belfast Bay Fiddlers

We’re still polishing up those sparkling facets of SiP, and we’ll let you know all the delicious details soon!

The BFS Board gets giddy about programs and radio shows

Belfast Flying Shoes Radio Hour:

Last chance to stream the June 4th BFS Radio Hour on demand! This month’s show focused on tunes from Maine Fiddle Camp, and host Chrissy Fowler incorporated suggestions and stories from a merry band of MFC campers and staff. Scroll through the WBFY Short Term Archive until you see the Flying Shoes Radio Hour icon. You can always read the transcript, but the music is so rollicking, you really should get out your device and give yourself a treat while you’re washing dishes or transplanting your garden seedlings.

Rays of Sunshine May 11

As thunderstorms sweep through Belfast, here are some Rays of Sunshine that are brightening our day:

Raelin – Radio Hour and Social Break host extraordinaire

BFS Radio Hour with Raelin (and Ralph!)

If you missed the May 7 Radio Hour on WBFY, tune your radio to 100.9 FM Tues 5/11 at 9pm or listen on demand – here.  Radio Hour host, Raelin Callahan, played a range of tunes that were referenced in the Northern Junket, a mimeographed magazine produced for 35 years by influential dance leader, Ralph Page. Raelin also shared excerpts from the magazine, such as advice for callers, suggested dance/tune pairings, and more. The Ralph Page collection is part of the NH Library of Traditional Music & Dance at the University of New Hampshire. The complete set of Northern Junket is also available in easy-to-access form on the Internet Archive.

The May Social Break was a hoot!

We loved our last Social Break!  As Elsie Gawler (of Elsie & Ethan) said, “That social break was food for the soul! I haven’t laughed that much in a while.” Dancer and caller, Shari Shakti, echoed the sentiment. “Laughter is so important for us all and I’m grateful for your offering!” What was so delightful?  Was it waltzing with houseplants to a schmaltzy tune learned at Maine Fiddle Camp? Was it “Dottie’s Elbows“, the dance composed in honor of BFS volunteer and All Comers Band member, Dottie Odell? Was it singing about jolly rumble-oh and May-o? Or was it simply the joy of connecting with each other? Probably all of it. While we’re pausing the online social breaks to focus on in-person events, we cheer for all of the 1st Fri participants Feb-May. Hurrah!

“Dances With Houseplants” – two of the 1st Fri co-hosts

BFS got a Maine Community Foundation Grant!

Belfast Flying Shoes just received a $5000 “Community Building Grant” from the Waldo County Fund of the Maine Community Foundation. We’re thrilled! These funds will help support our 2021 concert series for older adults, in collaboration with Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County, Belfast Community Media-BCTV2, Belfast Community Radio-WBFY, and others. This expanded program builds on our past partnership with Hospice. (More about 2020, here.) We’re especially excited that these concerts will be available to a wider audience via BCTV2 and WBFY. Stay tuned!

 

BFS By the Numbers – 2020

This month marks the one year anniversary of the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Maine. We realized it is long past time for us to review BFS data from the 2020 calendar year. Check it out! (And, for all the latest on BFS happenings in this calendar year, join our mailing list and keep in touch [email protected])