This was the list of performers for 2022.
Callers / Leaders
Amira has taught belly dance for over 15 years, and regularly performs at local events. She runs classes in Redditch, and online too.
Andrew has been dancing since he was little — and he's very tall now! He's possibly the only caller who is well-respected in Ceilidh, Contra and Playford circles alike. He has done considerable research into the early Playford dances. He also plays piano accordion, writes dance tunes (mostly in the French style) and dances with Gog Magog Molly
, going back to his days as a student in Cambridge. He now lives in Sheffield with his wife Daisy Black, also an experienced caller.
Brian started dancing and calling at barn dances and ceilidhs in his teens and came to folk dancing via ballroom dancing. He has called at various national venues including Halsway Manor and Eastbourne and Chippenham Festivals. He is also chairman of the excellent Mercian Folk Callers' Forum.
He enjoys Playford, modern English and American styles of dance and, as a caller, likes to share his enthusiasm with fellow dancers and to help them to get the most from a dance by encouraging them to think of the two big Ts — Timing and Technique.
Bubbles is a caller, dancer, singer and musician from Northamptonshire with over 35 years experience of calling for public barn dances. About 15 years ago Bubbles was introduced to the Social Dance scene and hasn't looked back since, enjoying all aspects of the dance scene.
Colin has been a caller for many years and has called at all the major dance festivals in England as well as dance weeks in the USA and the Netherlands and weekends in other countries. He teaches Playford-style, Traditional English, American Squares and Contras, and sometimes other dance forms such as Scottish, Quadrilles and Country Dance Minuet. He believes that if you dance better you will enjoy it more, and he runs workshops for callers and dancers in the hope of confirming this.
Daisy is a caller based in Sheffield, where she runs the popular dance and music session, Playford in the Pub. She calls for ceilidhs, and tends to mix older dances with more modern ones. She particularly enjoys making seventeenth century dances lively and accessible for new and more experienced dancers. When not calling, Daisy is a storyteller and a lecturer in medieval performance at the University of Wolverhampton. Her programmes are energetic, dynamic and somewhat silly.
She is married to Andrew Swaine, another well-known caller.
Fiona likes to dance, especially to Scottish music. Many years ago while a student she joined Edinburgh University New Scotland Country Dance Society. Fiona now teaches a Scottish Country Dance social class in Bristol, as well as a beginners/improvers class in Bath. She especially likes to encourage others to dance, and has taught at the RSCDS summer school in St Andrews, Scotland, as well as workshops in the UK, Europe, North America and South Africa.
Fiona is a really awful fiddler, but loves to share her enthusiasm for interpreting Scottish music through country dancing, ceilidh dancing and step dancing. She is an enthusiastic itinerant dancer, caller and publicist for the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, and is happy to travel miles to hear a fine band play and join in the dance.
James has studied voice under Nigel Wickens, Jeffrey Talbot, Felicity Cook, Ian Partridge and Michael Deason-Barrow, and has sung with Trecento, Otto Voci, The Cavalli Choir, New Cambridge Singers, Queens' College Choir, The Cambridge Taverner Choir, The Platinum Consort and Corde, and as soloist for Choir 2000, Queens College choir, Cantilena and Cambridge Voices among others.
Jeannie has been dancing, in one form or another, since the age of 4, and started calling for folk dancing 20 years ago. She calls for clubs, Saturday dances, festivals and weekends of dance, and particularly enjoys calling for Playford balls and workshops.
It's important to Jeannie that dancers remember that dancing is “Music Made Visible” but, above all, that it should be fun and flirtatious.
Joanna Reiner has taught English country dance for over two decades. In addition to being one of the leaders of the Philadelphia-based Germantown Country Dancers, her calling has taken her from Amherst to Ann Arbor, from NEFFA to Hey Days, from St. Croix to Vancouver, and other points abroad, including many sessions at Pinewoods Camp. Joanna loves teaching workshops for ECD callers, and workshops that explore ECD technique, new dances, and how people learn and remember dance choreography. While known for her clear calling and instruction, Joanna is also an avid dance gypsy, and in her spare time, works to support her dance habit.
John and Karen Sweeney
Karen and John have been dancing, demonstrating and teaching together since 2001 and love travelling and meeting dancers who, like them, are still looking for new styles and ideas. They run two dances a week in Ashford and Maidstone under the name Contrafusion. They just want to share their passion for dance and help people to have fun.
Websites: www.contrafusion.co.uk and www.modernjive.com
Kathryn and David Wright
Kathryn and David — “The Wrights of Lichfield” in Gary Roodman's dance — have been dancing together for over 50 years. They enjoy both dancing and calling and have a wide repertoire from Playford to American Squares and Contras. They have composed several dances that have achieved widespread popularity both at home and abroad and enjoy sharing their love of dancing with others. They particularly like encouraging good dance technique and enjoy making so-called “difficult” dances accessible.
Liz has been calling Playford, Georgian and Regency dances for 25 years, after learning Ballet and Scottish Country, both of which lend themselves well to historical dancing. A massive Jane Austen fan, Liz is the Dance Director of Jane Austen Dancers of Bath
and always aims is to ensure that dancing “old” dances, for “modern” audiences and participants, is fun and inclusive. To grow the popularity of Regency dancing, she was first to identify the importance of enjoying dances which have appeared in film/TV productions of Jane Austen novels. Apart from creating bespoke choreographies using historical dances, Liz loves researching the people, places and events surrounding the title of a dance, as it unearths some amazing stories and scandals!
Lynne Render is a dancer and caller from Loughborough in Leicestershire. She is a regular caller at local clubs and also calls for dances, ceilidhs and workshops at clubs and festivals throughout the country.
Lynne calls for dancers of all abilities and has worked with many well-known bands. She has called at Sidmouth, Chippenham, Eastbourne, Whitby, Lichfield and Bromyard festivals, at Casterton. Southam and other dance weekends and is a regular caller for The London Barndance Company at Cecil Sharp House and the Alcester contra series. She also used to call at the Peeping Tom ceilidhs.
Lynne likes to call a mixture of American and English dances and is always on the lookout for interesting nicely-flowing dances to add to her repertoire. She firmly believes that a clear explanation will enable the less-experienced dancer to enjoy a good dance. During the Covid pandemic she began writing dances suitable for people dancing in their own homes as part of online (Zoom) events. Although this will never be a substitute for real dancing, the dances she wrote were well received and hopefully gave people enjoyment at the time!
Lynne enjoys a wide range of dancing herself through social dance and ceilidhs and still loves to watch Appalachian clogging although no longer joining in!
Mike has been folk-dancing since 1970 and calling since 1981 for barn-dances, ceilidhs and dances for experts, including dance workshops, weekend residential events, and folk festivals throughout England. Mike is proud to have been Dance Director from 2004 to 2020 for the internationally-famous Chippenham Folk Festival
, held over the late May Bank Holiday weekend.
Nigel Close has danced for most of his adult life and was dance director of the display team Woodfidley for many years. He calls for Playford balls, barn dances and club nights far and wide; has taught a wide range of workshops in Hampshire and at Eastbourne, Chippenham and Sidmouth festivals; and leads the Winchester club 'as many as will'
He believes that dancing is a joy and that part of this enjoyment is in listening and responding to the music — making the music visible in dance.
In his spare time he is the token man in a circle dance group.
Maureen Knight and her husband Graham were two of the organisers of Eastbourne International Folk Festival before Mecki and her team took over and moved Eastbourne to Evesham, and she can't seem to keep away.
She will be encouraging less experienced musicians to join her on Monday for a non-threatening music session.
Formed in a Stockport pub in 2001, North-West-based band Albireo have established themselves as favourites with ceilidh, festival and dance club audiences across the country. At home with English ceilidh, Zesty Playford and their own particular take on energetic social dance, they have a second album Binary
which draws heavily from the Playford collection and shows both the versatility of the band and their love of the source material.
The line-up is Tom Kitching (fiddle), Howard Jones (melodeon, concertina), Steve Hodgskiss (piano, concertina), Peter Crowther (bass) and Sean Bechhofer (guitar).
Julia Day, Shane Day and Tina Brown were part of the legendary “Wild Thyme”, and have been playing as “Keeping Thyme” since 2000. They provide good, danceable music with energy or a gentle touch as required, in many styles, and will still be smiling at the end of the festival.
Portland Duo are two thirds of Portland Drive, and specialise in playing high energy and exciting dance music for contra dancing, although they also love playing the beautiful tunes from the English tradition. Their fiddler is Brian Stone (of Fiddling Around fame) whom you can also hear on jazz guitar. Pianist Elaine Meechan who provides the driving, dynamic and rhythmic harmonic structure for the band, also played in contra band Skylark. Portland Duo are very excited to be playing at the May Heydays festival in Evesham.
Website: www.portland-drive.co.uk Facebook: facebook.com/portlanddrive
Purcell's Polyphonic Party
Purcell's Polyphonic Party are a trio of musicians come together to combine their love of Purcell, Playford, Baroque and the Nordic Noir. Take one harpsichord, one viola d'amore, one nyckelharpa. Stir occasionally with bouzouki and accordion. Once mixed add one set of bagpipes, a light sprinkling of flageolet and allow to simmer gently together on stage for around 3 hours. Then enjoy some beautifully served up dance music.
With a wide range of experience from Playford and social dance to ceilidh and contra, Purcell's Polyphonic Party has a unique sound, combining the beauty and style of the baroque era with raw foot-tapping dance energy. You can be assured that a dance evening has plenty of variety.
Website: purcelltrio.co.uk Facebook: facebook.com/PurcellsPolyphonicParty Twitter: twitter.com/purcelltrio
Wild Ride brings together the fiddle of Bob Tracey, the piano and fiddle of Holly Norton and the mandolin, banjo and guitar of Robbie Thomas to produce a dance band with an exciting, driving and superbly danceable sound that is built on a foundation of decades of combined experience of playing for dancers.
Combining the groove and drive of American contra music with infectious tunes from the American, Scottish, Irish traditions and, when the dancing demands, the English tradition and the elegant strains of the Playford and pre-Playford canon, Wild Ride bring an exhilarating and rewarding experience to both dancers and listeners.
Website: www.wildridecontra.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/wildridecontra
Bob Robinson has been dancing Balkan and other international dance for over 30 years. He teaches regularly at Barlow International Folk Dance Group in Manchester, and has led workshops in Canada, USA, Poland, Australia and the UK. He has collected dances from dance teachers in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Romania and Armenia and from many of the top European and North American teachers. His evening will be mainly Balkan dances, both traditional and modern.
Colin & Sally Hersom
Colin and Sally Hersom are long-time members of the Oxford International Folk Dance Group. Over the past two years they have run acclaimed Zoom and outdoor sessions to keep the group active. On Saturday evening they will present a selection of dances that their group enjoys. All dances will be accessible to everyone and will be recapped or taught as necessary.
Confluence are an instrumental meeting of cello (Gill Redmond) and accordion (Alasdair Paton) based around the New Forest. They join traditional folk music from the UK with melodies from continental Europe, and self-penned tunes. They take influences from their diverse musical experiences in classical, jazz, baroque as well as folk — providing listeners with a fresh take on familiar material. Since they played for the Euro dance at Chippenham festival in 2018, Confluence have played concert sets at folk and cabaret clubs in Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire. They have also been playing for bal-folk dancing around the south of England at Brighton, Bristol, Reading and for their own Euro Bal Wessex events in Hampshire and Dorset. Confluence are looking forward to sharing their experience and enjoyment of the European dance repertoire at the forthcoming workshop and bal.
Jenny only fell into the world of bal folk (French and European folk dancing) six years ago but has been dancing for much longer, starting with English ceilidh and morris dance and exploring salsa and blues dancing along the way. She enjoys finding the common threads between dance traditions, as well as digging into what makes each style unique. Jenny has taught at a number of dance festivals and events, including Skint and IVFDF, and is involved in organising bal folk events in Bristol.
Karin Bellaart has been a teacher of ballet and international folklore since 1974, teaching amateurs and professionals in many ways. She has taught in England many times — International Folk Camp 1978, Great Alne Weekends, Eastbourne Festival 1986 and 1987, SIFD Summer School 1989 and 2015 — and has performed with Hupsakee and Paloina during festivals in Chippenham, Newcastle and Sidmouth.
Maya Buckley and Chris Edmunds are Klerizma. They enjoy playing the eclectic mix of music offered by the International dance scene, and in addition to accordion and clarinet like to spice up their performances with other instruments that add flavour. You may find yourself dancing to the sound of a Bulgarian shepherd's flute (kaval) or be transported eastwards by the distinctive sound of the oud. Above all, Klerizma love the interaction between musicians and dancers; a two-way exchange of energies that adds an extra dimension.
Jane Austen Dancers of Bath
The 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, and the Ball at Netherfield where Mr Darcy danced with Miss Elizabeth Bennet, inspired the founding of the Jane Austen Dancers of Bath in 1996 — the first Regency dance group in the UK.
We hold regular classes in this beautiful Georgian city where Jane Austen made her home between 1801 and 1806 and also set Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. In our classes we not only learn how to dance (and some of us had never danced before!), but also find out more about the etiquette, the fashion, the history and the social customs of the Regency and late Georgian period — all of which has been extensively researched by Liz Bartlett from original sources.
Website: www.janeaustendancersbath.co.uk Facebook: www.facebook.com/janeaustendancersbath