Rays of Sunshine in 2023

The Midwinter* mark is behind us, and the love fest of St. Valentine’s Day is upon us—perfect timing for some Rays of Sunshine!

Dancing on the Oregon Trail

Chrissy Fowler has been working weekly with 4th graders at Captain Albert Stevens School, helping deepen the community connectedness in the classroom and supporting an interdisciplinary project designed by 2022 Waldo County Teacher of the Year, Nancy Nickerson. Local musicians, Benjamin Foss & John Pranio, joined the Oregon Trail celebration on January 27 with the fourth graders, their families, and others from the school community.

Jim Leonard, editor of the Republican Journal (Village Soup/Courier Publications), captured some of the experience in his front page article, including some gorgeous photos. Throughout the fall, the students brainstormed other aspects related to the dancing and singing (as pictured below.)

Music & Dance for Social Emotional Learning

We’re thrilled that Belfast Flying Shoes was awarded a $10,000 Maine Expansion Arts Grant from the Maine Community Foundation to support a social dance & music program offered to all PreK-Grade 2 classes in our local school district, RSU71. Five teaching artists and fourteen classroom teachers are participating in the program, which includes eight classroom visits and valuable time for collaboration.
Based on input from the classroom teachers, the teaching artists will share repertoire that enhances social and emotional development and cultivates positive social skills; they’ll also link the material to aspects of the academic curriculum. Bangor Daily News reporter, Kay Neufeld, wrote a compelling and well-researched article, including links to related news & research.)
Chrissy Fowler demonstrating with a kindergartner in 2014

Celebrating Cedar Callahan’s Contributions

At the 2022 Annual Meeting, the board bid a fond farewell to Cedar Callahan, whose service to Flying Shoes was marked by commitment and candor. After being introduced at a young age to contra dancing during a BFS residency at Appleton Village School, Cedar dove into the community, attending Maine Fiddle Camp and dances around the state.  They played often in the All Comers Band, joined the BFS Board in 2016, and assumed the role of Board President in 2022.

An accomplished musician and songster, community leader, organizer, college student, and activist, Cedar brought great passion to the BFS Board, including a forthright demeanor beyond their years. Their contributions included helping BFS move to gender neutral role terms at the contras, emphasizing the importance of a culture of community care and respect, and catalyzing important policy and procedure work (including drafting a case for support, to help us tell the story of BFS to our constituents and funders.) We are heartened to know that Cedar will continue to be active in the world, including our little Flying Shoes corner of it!  Thank you, Cedar, for your commitment and contributions!

Serving BFS from teen years…
…to young adulthood ~ thanks Cedar!

Feb 3 Recap

Wow, we had two HOT dances on an incredibly COLD night. Willy & Benjamin led the amazing All-Comers Band (featuring several first-timers, plus a record percentage of guitars!), enthusiastic dancers whirled and stomped across the floor, John Pranio ran excellent sound, Chris Ricciotti called a beautiful program, and SpringTide’s music elevated our spirits. Special thanks to those who wrote sweet notes in the frosty windows of the entrance doors (we wish we’d taken pics, but we were anxious to see if our cars would start!)

SpringTide (Willy Clemetson, Elsie Gawler, & Ethan Tischler)
Contra caller Chris Ricciotti (toward R, in cap & plaid shirt) and other dancers, doing “Flat Tire”, a dance composed in 1990 by Peter Amidon and fourth grade students in Quechee, VT

*Happy belated Feb 2 celebrations of Candlemas, Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day, Setsubun, and Groundhog Day! Hope you’ve still got half your wood and half your hay!