Our participatory arts programs fulfill the BFS mission!
BFS Radio Hour ~ A weekly show produced for hyper-local community radio station, WBFY ~ belfastcommunityradio.org. Highlighting the contra dance music we love, here in Belfast and beyond; the musicians who play it with and for others; and the dancers of all ages that it inspires.
Airs every Friday at 6 pm (with encore airing on Wed at 1 pm). Tune in at 100.9 FM, listen via Livestream here, and listen On Demand here. Make Requests here. Transcripts and tune lists of past shows – here.
School Residencies ~ Participatory music and dance programs to build community among students, staff, and families in preK-12 schools.
Resources for educators include repertoire, mentoring, and an annotated bibliography of dance-related children’s books. We donated 248 ukuleles to our local school district and provided instruction for in-person and remote learners.
Read blog posts about past residencies at Prescott Memorial School in Washington (here, here, here, and here); The Game Loft, Monhegan Island, and Waldo County Schools (here); Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School (here); and the Maine School of Mathematics and Science (here).
Community Programming ~ Participatory arts programs support diverse groups in our community:
- Concerts and community-building music/dance/movement for older adults, including a collaboration with Hospice Volunteers of Waldo County for “Sing Along and Tap Your Toes: outdoor concerts at a congregate care facility impacted by the Covid pandemic.
- Music lessons, instruments, and community dancing for residents at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center
- Dancing for mentors and staff at the Restorative Justice Project
Workshops ~ A host of learning opportunities over the years:
- Music and percussive dance workshops at Sundays in the Park
- Weekly contra dance lessons for teens and adults
- Music workshops for contra and ECD musicians
- Leadership workshops for callers
- Period dance lessons for the Game Loft and for a Regency Ball
1st Friday BFS Social Break ~ A monthly connection in early 2021, with music, dance, socializing, and plenty of laughter
First Friday Dances ~ A public dance series for all ages and experience levels with three parts (The 1st Friday Dance Series is on hiatus):
- Community dance at 6:30 pm, with calling by Lisa Newcomb & Chrissy Fowler and music by an open All Comers Band (all ages, skill levels, instruments welcome!) $1 kids/teens, $2 adults
- Social break to strengthen community through shared conversation
- Contra dance at 8 pm, with various callers and musicians from Maine and beyond, using gender neutral role terms. $5 kids, $8 teens, $10 adults
Other Programs to Support the BFS Mission ~
- Donating dance-related films and children’s books to the Belfast Free Library
- a trad dance & music film series
- a film & jam session
- a live theater production of “The Dancingmaster“
- a panel discussions with teens and others
- and more!
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Array of Impacts of BFS programming:
- A former Reentry Center resident was so positively influenced by our music programs that he hopes to musically mentor current Reentry residents from the “other side of the fence.”
- At Sing Along and Tap Your Toes concerts, the older adults in the audience clapped, swayed, and sang with enthusiasm, including one person who seemed to be napping when their wheelchair was rolled out but then belted out all of the verses and chorus.
- A fifth grader, excited about learning ukulele chords in a BFS residency, put a ukulele on their holiday wish list.
- After a music jam at Sundays in the Park, an All Comers Band musician exclaimed, “That was the best we’ve sounded in months!”
- At a school residency, a student who has challenges in school was invited to try out the wooden spoons. They demonstrated extraordinary rhythm and skill, outshining their grade-level classmates and receiving effusive compliments from the concert performers.
- One evening, a parent messaged, “My child couldn’t stop talking about a dance in French. Can you send me the music so they can dance at home?” We replied and the parent immediately messaged, “Thanks! She’s dancin’!”
- An online participant at the BFS Social Break early in the year said their face felt just like it did at a dance—a bit achy from smiling so much.
- Program leaders across the board have shared how meaningful it has been to work with people in person—some in their first gigs in months—including a fiddler who had tears in their eyes during the sound check.
Here’s what people say about BFS programs:
Resident at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center: [Taking BFS music lessons] has been a life changing experience for me. The discovery of musical expression has changed my very being. It is my number one way to cope with stress and anxiety. It has also played a huge role in my recovery.
Elementary school music teacher: Thank you so much for coming in! I have already been using a bunch of the things I learned in all my classes. It has truly freed me up to put the fun back in music.
Nurse practitioner: Contra dances heal me.
Dancer at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center: I had to step a little out of my comfort zone, but it was so fun and energetic that I smiled the whole time.
Grade 4 student in RSU 71: I like playing the ukulele with my friends. My class has been learning our first ukulele song and have all learned how to tune the instrument. Every ukulele day, I can’t wait for the lessons to start!
Activities director for a skilled nursing community: This weekly program has meant a lot to our residents, seeing people from the community and being outdoors. What a treat to have this entertainment!
Contra dance caller: Belfast Flying Shoes has always been an inspiration to me for how to really engage the community, and these programs are just one more example.
Elementary school principal: I was amazed by how well-behaved and engaged our students were, with the whole student body dancing in the gymnasium. This was an incredible experience for them!
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For more information on programs or to support BFS with a tax-deductible donation, contact us: [email protected]
Programs are made possible with generous support from individual donors, private foundations, grantors, and our past and current project partners, including:
~BFS CONTRIBUTORS & PARTNERS THIS YEAR (2021 & 2022) listed here
~BFS CONTRIBUTORS & PARTNERS IN 2020 listed here