Great chefs don’t just learn this recipe and that recipe. They learn cooking techniques and about the ingredients, how to use them, when to use them, how they work with other ingredients etc.

The aim of these workshops is to apply the same principles to English Country Dance. Don’t just learn dances. Become a great (or at least better) dancer, caller or dance choreographer by learning many of the techniques and moves in [English] Country Dance. Explore its rich and diverse development and see how it evolved into English, American, Scottish and Irish Country Dance together with their high energy eCeilidh, iCeilidh, sCeilidh and Zesty Contra cousins.

The workshops will traverse the complete spectrum of English Country Dance from pre-Playford right up to the current day including traditional dances, stepping, eCeilidh, American Country Dance and more. They have been designed to integrate folk dance club dancers, ceilidh dancers and fans of Zesty Playford. They will include elements of dance technique and dance history and will not be just another dance.

The music will provide drive and energy. You won't have to skip, but we hope that you will want to (but not in the waltzes please)!


Saturday: VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE (1550-1690)   Click to see notes

Dances from manuscripts and the early editions of the (English ) Dancing Master

Sunday: THE FRENCH INFLUENCE (1690-1730)   Click to see notes

Dances from later editions of the Dancing Master as well as rival publications including French diagram-based sources

Monday: UK NOUVELLE CUISINE 1 (1950 onward)   Click to see notes

New dances, new and different interpretations, the Community Dance Manuals. stepping and Long live the revolution - ‘Ceilidhs'

Tuesday: MEAT AND TWO VEG (Mid to late 18th century)   Click to see notes

The triple minor era

Wednesday: UK NOUVELLE CUISINE 2 (1950 onward)   Click to see notes

New dances, new and different interpretations, the Community Dance Manuals. stepping and Long live the revolution - ‘Ceilidhs'

Thursday: MUSEUM FOOD (1910-1940)   Click to see notes

The Sharp heyday. Dances from the Country Dance Books, both ‘Traditional’ and ‘Re-constructed’

Friday: AMERICAN DISHES (1950s onward)   Click to see notes

New English Country Dances from America, not corrupted by the Community Dance Manuals: mainly triple time, minor key, floaty duple minor dances, jigs - eugh, no step-hops here


The workshops will be led by Michael Barraclough with music by Mrs Savage’s Whim and Purcell’s Polyphonic Party.

Michael Barraclough brings together talents: as a dance researcher; performer; high energy ceilidh caller; and his experience of dancing/calling) contras and English Country Dance, both in the UK and the USA. He has been dancing for nearly 50 years and calling for almost as long. He has danced with London Folk (the EFDSS national dance company), London Pride Morris Men (Cotswold), Manley Traditional Morris Men (NorthWest) and founded/directed the Queen Anne Dance Company. He was a Folk Camp leader for many years and was Pyewackett’s caller. In 2008 he emigrated to the USA where he calls contra and ECD regularly. Further information is available at

Music for the workshops will be by Mrs Savage's Whim, who play for 3 workshops (Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday) as well as the 'Playford' Ball (Saturday); and, Purcell’s Polyphonic Party, who return after their great success in these workshops last year, and play for 4 workshops (Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

Mrs Savage’s Whim has been formed as a string quartet to specialize in playing for dances from the Playford era. Members are: Cath Watkins and Ben Potton on violin, Beth Gifford on viola and Gill Redmond on cello. Ben, Gill and Cath are three-fifths of ceilidh band Jigfoot. Gill deps with the Mellstock Band and was in the Peeping Tom Big Band. Beth has her own ceilidh band, Take the Biscuit.

Purcell’s Polyphonic Party are a trio of musicians came together to combine their love of Purcell, Playford, Baroque and the Nordic Noir. Members are: Vicki Swan on nyckelharpa, flute and English Border pipes; Jonny Dyer on digital harpsichord, guitar, guitar-shaped octave mandola (with added bass at times) and accordion; John Dipper on viola d’amore. Vicki and Jonny are in Millrace Ceilidh Band, Tryangle and Gleowien and John Dipper is in Alma, The Emily Askkew Band and the A3 Ceilidh Band (to name just a few). The band has been delighting audiences up and down the country.


RULE 1- Have FUN


Let the MUSIC control your movement
Be in CONTROL of your body
Be in the right place at the right time
Don’t start too soon
Don’t be late
Be ready for the next move

Try not to stop other people having fun
Try not not help unless it is requested
Be aware of your role as a ‘role model’
Accept that different ‘villages’ have different ways of doing things


There is only 1 rule!