At the 2012 FAR-West conference, Nancy Mestyanek of Folding Mr. Lincoln gave a performance that embodied the spirit of Folk Alliance and of all the folk arts that we cherish and work together to preserve and share.
In the middle of the band's rendition of “Galway Girl,” she jumped from the stage to the floor in front of the crowd and showed us all the full scope of the music being played with her artful, lively steps. It was an absolutely enchanting moment.
In honor of Nancy’s contributions to FAR-West and the world of folk music and dance, FAR-West is initiating a modest yet heartfelt new tradition starting at the 2014 conference. A gift card and certificate will be awarded to a person or persons at each conference going forward who brings the joy and spirit of dance to that conference. The board will vote on Sunday morning just prior to the ‘Breakfast with the Board’ and the winner will be announced at that meeting. The winner could have done something as simple as clog on a board while they fiddled at a showcase, or teach a workshop or even simply take a risk and dance in public during the conference in some inspiring or memorable way.
The award will serve as a reminder that dance is at the foundation of so much of the music that is played at the conference and in folk music gatherings all over the world. We will forever remember and honor Nancy for being the embodiment of that spirit through her performance at the Official Showcase in 2012.
It will be called the Nancy Mestyanek 'Within My Reach' award. Named after the song, Within My Reach, written by her husband Harry, the intent is to remind everyone that all the folk arts and good will are within the reach of every individual. That is the foundation of the Folk Alliance conferences, and therefore FAR-West – our mission to help preserve that core human spirit of artistic community that is as ancient as mankind itself.
It is our intention to honor Nancy in this manner. Her contribution to FAR-West will remain in people's minds for a long time to come and hopefully inspire many who come after her to find the same joyful spirit of expression that she embodied on that beautiful evening in 2012.
Past awardees include: Dharmika Henshel, Lauren Sheehan and Alexia Salvatieera (2017); Rick Aydelotte & Rita Kraft and Marni Rachmiel & Scott Katz (2016); Alexia Salvatierra and Michele Dulson (2015); Honey Whiskey Trio (2014)
About Nancy Mestyanek:
Nancy was an 'accomplished, competitive, award-winning' Irish step-dancer prior to performing with Folding Mr. Lincoln. During her performance of 'Galway Girl' at their official showcase in 2012, Nancy jumped down from the stage and shared some of her Irish Step-Dancing footwork with the audience. This was always a signature part of 'Galway Girl' when the band would play it live. Nancy originally was a competitive Irish Step-Dancer - dancing with Aniar Academy in Laguna Niguel and was very proud of her Irish Dancing & her Irish Heritage. She had knee surgery in the mid 2000's (meniscus tear) that forced her out of the competitive Irish dancing circles. But she still found spots to dance with Folding Mr. Lincoln.