The light is shining out from many places these days. Here are three bright spots in the world:
Yiddish Dance Tutorials: BFS board member Chrissy Fowler met Steve Weintraub several years ago at Pourparler, an annual gathering for community dance leaders. Steve leads all sorts of Jewish dancing and he’s created teaching videos of Yiddish dances that could be done alone or with a small group, including the Freylekhs (derived from the word meaning “happy” — perfect!) Steve also teaches seated dances for folks with mobility or balance limitations, and is a positive force in the world. Check out his FB page too.
Dancing in the Sign of Sun: The same Steve Weintraub recently shared this gorgeous video from Dagmāra Bārbale of Latvia. She writes, “It’s hard to be alone – not to meet dancers … to stop and completely change the rhythm of life. … [This] is a tribute to the many thousands of dancers who lack their dance teachers, partners and dance friends.”
Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center: The residents and staff at the MCRRC are inspiring, and the BFS outreach programs at the Reentry Center have been a source of joy since they began. During the monthly dance at the Center, the basement level classroom rings with music and laughter. Dancers from the community label it their “favorite dance experience of all time” and residents slough off their nervousness to literally step outside their comfort zones to try this odd thing called contra dancing. And everyone laughs.
In 2019, BFS received a grant from the ME Community Foundation to expand our MCRRC program of participatory music and dance. With the Center closed to outside visitors, the programs have morphed dramatically, but we’re thrilled to report that they’re continuing! Just this week, John Pranio resumed teaching music lessons with residents – albeit virtually.
In December, John started teaching guitar lessons with the Reentry residents using guitars that BFS purchased for the Center with the MaineCF grant. He also taught ukulele & fiddle, and is now adding banjo & harmonica (thanks to generous loans and donations of those instruments.)
We’re looking forward to dancing together again, but until then, the beat goes on.