Workshops

On Saturday and Sunday mornings workshops are held for you to learn something new, practice something different or have your dancing brain bent in interesting ways.

Thank you ever so much to everyone who offered to run a workshop we are delighted that so many of you are willing to pass on your joy of dance, music or something else.


Friday

Introduction to Bal

Fri 10:00pm - 10:30pm

Raffy Harvey

Come along and learn the basics of Balfolk in preparation for this evening’s Bal.

Saturday

Beginners Scottish Country Dancing

Sat 9:00am - 10:00am

Lucy Munro and Stephen Mitchell

Come learn the basics of Scottish Country Dancing in this beginner friendly workshop. We’ll cover popular figures which will prepare you for the evening dance.

Wear soft shoes if possible.

Border Morris

Sat 9:00am - 10:00am

Chris Broan

It’s the 18th or 19th century, it’s winter, and it’s cold. The agricultural workers in the Welsh Marshes have no work and no money left, so they disguise themselves by pinning odd rags on their normal clothes, smearing their faces with soot from the fire and going to the houses of the local gentry. You could describe what they did there as dancing with noise, energy and big sticks out of the hedgerows. You could also describe it as begging with menaces (and very big sticks). They were perpetrating Border Morris.

Border morris usually involves quite simple, but vigorous, stepping, typically a step-hop. A few traditional dances were recorded but, since the revival in the 1970s, many more new dances have been written in the style (or, at least, our best guess as to the style…). We will be looking at one of the newer dances. If there is sufficient interest, it may be possible to dance it as a workshop display in the Display Ceilidh on Saturday afternoon. Please bring energy, enthusiasm and shock-absorbing footwear! Also, if there are any morris sides able to lend us some extra 75cm (approx!) sticks that would be much appreciated…

An Introduction to Contra

Sat 9:00am - 10:00am

Jack Kanutin

Whether you have been folk dancing for years, or this is your first time, this introduction to contra dancing will help prepare you for the rest of your weekend. We’ll be looking at the basic moves and structure of contra by learning some simple dances. If you aren’t new to contra and you want to come along anyway, that’s absolutely fine - the best way to learn after all is to dance with experienced dancers!

Scratch Band (Part 1)

Sat 9:00am - 10:00am

Harry Pollard and Matt Norman

Run through the tunes which will be used in the survivors ceilidh. A great chance to play for a ceilidh if you have always wanted to but haven’t had the chance or just play through some tunes with people. Come to one or both of the workshops.

If you want to look at the tunes beforehand you can find the tune book here.

Song Session

Sat 9:00am - 10:00am

Tom Frangleton

Absolute Beginners Whistle with a Side Order of Percussion

Sat 10:15am - 11:15am

Pete Grassby

Whistles and simple sheet music will be provided. Includes a swift demo of bodhran and bones technique.

Dartmoor Step Dance

Sat 10:15am - 11:15am

Matt Norman and Beth Frangleton

Learn the basic steps of the Dartmoor Step Dance with a few twiddles thrown in. Works best with hard soled shoes or taps.

Improvised Bourrée Singing

Sat 10:15am - 11:15am

Greg Dyke

Using ever-changing nonsense lyrics to sing Bourrees from Auvergne.

Javanese Gamelan

Sat 10:15am - 11:15am

Harry Pollard

An introduction to Javanese Gamelan music, using the university’s own gamelan ‘Sekar Petak’.

Kentucky Running Set

Sat 10:15am - 11:15am

Annabel Sharp

Kentucky Running Set is a form of American Square Dance, collected by Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles in the Appalachians in the early 20th century. It is danced briskly and is made up of choruses, whole-set and visiting figures, strung together as the dancers “run a set”.

Ronds and Rondeuxs

Sat 10:15am - 11:15am

Isobel Priest

Fancy learning some more unusual bal dances? This workshop will look at rondeauxs, which are joyful bouncy dances from Gascony done in a line (en chaine) or in a pair (en couple), including fun variations for the couple version. It will also introduce a couple of unusual ronde dances that are done as a group, and how to get good connection in that circle. Specific dances will be taught from scratch, some balfolk experience is useful as the pace will be fast.

Leading and Following Distilled

Sat 11:30am - 12:30pm

Lindsey Kennedy and Jos Style

Focusing on connection and communication in dance, the aim of the workshop is to add some new skills to your dancing toolbox that will unlock the next step for you - whether this is steering confidently, leading your first variation, or enacting the most classy foot slides to be seen this year. Expect some fun exercises that you wouldn’t normally see on a dance floor and experience of both the lead and follow role. The principles are relevant to almost any partnered dance (Bal, Waltz, Swing, Blues, Tango, and even Contra variations), but the music will have a balfolk flavour. Open to all dancers from beginners to experts, there’ll be something to develop your own technique.

Left/Right Confusion in Dancing

Sat 11:30am - 12:30pm

Steve Harris

Left/Right confusion is a little understood issue that affects many dancers. Aim to explore the issue by discussion and by small scale experimentation on a dancefloor. More info at https://steveharris.uk/lrc/

Cotswold Morris

Sat 11:30am - 12:30pm

Acorn Morris

Come and learn some Cotswold dances with Acorn Morris.

Bring large hankies if you have them!

The Playford Story

Sat 11:30am - 12:30pm

Ann Hinchliffe

“Mr Playford! Loving your dance books. Where do the dances come from?” “Oh, some from my grandparents, some from Inns of Court fellows. With King Charles back from France, I’m adding some French-style steps. Most fashionable.” Led by researcher Ann Hinchliffe, dance the way Playford did!

UCL Caledonian Society Presents Reeling

Sat 11:30am - 12:30pm

University College London Caledonian Society

Fancy trying out a bit of Scottish country dancing? Whether you are a regular at local ceilidhs or have never heard of reeling before, we would love for you to come along and give our beginner-friendly workshop a go!

Reeling is a social form of dancing made popular in the 18th century by lairds who held formal balls in their castles. Our society focuses on the social side of this dance and ensures everyone will leave wanting to reel again! It is a very beginner-friendly form of dance and we have newcomers weekly at our regular society sessions. Most of the dances use repeat patterns of basic moves (setting, turning, casting off and figure of eights) which is part of why it is so accessible! However it also has more complex moves such as tullock turns and even sometimes the helicopter (yes it is as crazy as it sounds!). There are over 11,000 reels that exist nowadays although don’t fret, we’ll only be teaching a few!

Who are we? We are UCL Caledonian Society, a university run society operating at University College London. We hold weekly sessions where we teach both regulars and newcomers alike! We also hold two yearly formal balls (winter ball and summer ball) with a live band, which anyone is welcome to, normally located on the UCL campus! To keep updated with any of our events check out our instagram: @uclcalsoc .

Squeezebox from Scratch - Absolute Beginners D/G Melodeon

Sat 11:30am - 1:00pm

Ed Rennie and Helena Painting

The workshops aim to give the participants a basis of good techniques from the start which will pay dividends in the longer term. The step by step teaching method combined with the tablature means by the end of the workshop they will have played at least one tune and have the tools to play further tunes, even if they cannot read music yet. We say yet because many, by using the tablature, have found they have inadvertently learned that skill as a by-product. We have a bank of 17 good quality Hohner melodeons which can be used by the budding musicians who would like to try out but don’t have access to an instrument. The workshops have a limit of 20 places, to include anyone who may have brought or borrowed an instrument. There is a repeat of this workshop on Sunday to hopefully allow anyone who wants a try to have a chance.

Blues Dance Taster

Sat 12:45pm - 1:45pm

Katy and Greg

We’ll give you a taste of Blues partner dance, music and values

Breton Dance

Sat 12:45pm - 1:45pm

Jean-Christophe Denis

Do you feel sad that you don’t have the chance to exercise your pinkies at IVFDF? Come to this workshop, pinkies workout is guaranteed! We will travel and dance around Brittany, from joyful couple dances from the coast to energetic chain dances from the “mountains”. We will move from the French-speaking areas to discover the Breton and Gallo speaking counties. You will dance on traditional but also “contemporary traditional” music. Open to all. Cider not provided, but French accent is!

Calling

Sat 12:45pm - 1:45pm

Rhodri Davies

Ever wanted to try your hand at calling or want some hints for improving or a knotty calling problem? If so, come along to this session with veteran caller Rhodri Davies. The intention is to make this a practical session with the chance to try things out, but we will adapt to the interests of those who attend.

Gary Roodman Dances

Sat 12:45pm - 1:45pm

Burt Hunter

Gary Roodman is a statistician from New England currently living in Missouri. He has been writing dances for over 40 years, many of them in what he calls ‘English historical style’, what we rather lazily refer to as ‘Playford’. He is unusual in that he usually starts with a tune that he likes then writes a dance to fit, rather than the other way round as most dance composers do. He is very eclectic in his choice of music which makes it challenging for a live band as the range includes folk, classical and jazz. (I will be using recorded music). His dances have a flow which makes them satisfying to perform.

This workshop might prove challenging for those unused to Playford style dances but I will guide you through the intricacies of leading up a double, siding, arming, setting and turning single and other beautiful figures. Gary classifies his dances according to the ‘Expected degree of teaching difficulty’ from one to five. This workshop will include dances of varying degrees of challenge including one at level five if people are up for it.

Sunday

Javanese Gamelan

Sun 8:00am - 9:00am

Harry Pollard

An introduction to Javanese Gamelan music, using the university’s own gamelan ‘Sekar Petak’. A repeat of the workshop from Saturday.

American Squares Positionally

Sun 9:00am - 10:00am

Colin Hume

Positional calling is a technique of gender-free calling which refers to the dancers only in terms of their position. It’s a very different mindset from just replacing “Men” and “Women” by “Larks” and “Robins” - it needs a new approach to both walkthrough and calling. Louise Siddons has championed this for calling contras, but as far as we know no-one has yet tried to apply it to squares. That’s about to change!

Colin will present a range of squares, some of which you will find challenging but all of which you should find fun. They are traditional-style but with interesting variations, so you need to know standard figures and be able to react quickly to the calls.

Defensive Dancing - Asserting comfortable boundaries on the dancefloor

Sun 9:00am - 10:00am

Daisy Black and Sol Loreto Miller

Ever felt uncomfortable, anxious or off-balance on the dancefloor? This workshop will look at positive ways to change uncomfortable holds and movements, how to assert your personal space and how to communicate with your partner in the middle of a dance in a way that makes dancing more comfortable for both of you.

We will be discussing examples from Ceilidh, Contra, Playford and Balfolk, but the points made will be relevant to all kinds of dance involving partners.

Feel free to bring your own questions and examples to work on.

English Clog Dance

Sun 9:00am - 10:00am

Janet Rose

This is a Beginners’ workshop for dancers who haven’t tried Clog dancing. We will start by having some fun making percussive sounds with our feet. We’ll learn a Hornpipe which can be performed solo or in a group. Steven will provide the music to accompany us. I have a few pairs of spare clogs to borrow (on loan from The Glasshouse, Gateshead) or you can join in with hard soled shoes or taps.

Rhyme Time

Sun 9:00am - 10:00am

Jen Morgan

Folkie nursery rhymes for the little ones (and those that are very young at heart). A mixture of standard nursery rhymes with a few folk songs and maybe one or two mash ups.

Scratch Band (Part 2)

Sun 9:00am - 10:00am

Harry Pollard and Matt Norman

Run through the tunes which will be used in the survivors ceilidh. A great chance to play for a ceilidh if you have always wanted to but haven’t had the chance or just play through some tunes with people. Come to one or both of the workshops.

If you want to look at the tunes beforehand you can find the tune book here.

Dancing in a time of uncertainty, English fifteenth century dances in threes.

Sun 9:15am - 10:00am

Elizabeth Lawson

We’ll be looking a number of fifteenth century dances for three people, talking about the difficulty of interpreting the manuscript they come from and having a go. If you’ve never done fifteenth century dance come and see why I love it. If you have been to my workshops before, I will be bringing more swords this year. Please note the slightly later start time of 9.15 am

British Contra Dances

Sun 10:15am - 11:15am

Rhodri Davies

Contra dancing comes from the US New England, with some of its roots in English Country Dancing, but we also have modern contra choreographers from this country. Come and try one of the oldest British contra dances and contributions from more modern British authors.

Cornish Nos Lowen Dancing

Sun 10:15am - 11:15am

Cathy Bennett

Nos Lowen (Cornish for Happy Night) is a type of social dance without a caller (quite like Bal or Breton Fez Nos). The workshop will be a chance to learn the steps to some of the dances and dance them to some cornish tunes!

Fusion Dance Intro to Free Movement

Sun 10:15am - 11:15am

Malcolm White

Fusion dance is when people from different dance backgrounds bring their own experience and connect. It is improvisation, connection and can lead to something new and beautiful.
Fusion is gradually growing into its own art form!

Maypole

Sun 10:15am - 11:15am

Elizabeth Lawson

How to do maypole dancing - Maypole dancing is one of the few things it’s possible to become competent in during an hour’s workshop. My workshop will go through both the basic figures and also how to run a maypole session yourself.

IVFDF Reps Meeting

Sun 10:15am - 11:15am

Come along to the IVFDF annual reps meeting if you want to learn more about how the festival is run, or you’re interested in running IVFDF yourself. We will give a break-down of 2024, have an update on 2025, vote on IVFDF 2026 and discuss any improvements for future IVFDFs. Each university society should send 2 reps to vote.

Beginners Charleston

Sun 11:30am - 12:30pm

Peter Marsh and Rosalind Williams

Continuing on from the popular lindy hop and solo jazz workshops from previous IVFDFs, Peter and Rosalind this year bring you Charleston! Charleston is a super fun and fast paced form of partnered swing dance, for boogying to old jazz hits from the roaring 20s. In this workshop we will teach you some basic steps and moves which you can take to the social dancefloor.

Intro to Slip Jigs

Sun 11:30am - 12:30pm

Sacha Charlie

A brief introduction to slip jigs, a soft shoe style of Irish dancing. This workshop will teach basic form for soft shoe, moving with flow and grace, and a slip jig step.

Niggun Sing (Wordless song session)

Sun 11:30am - 12:30pm

Isaac Montagu

A song session without words, a tune session without instruments. Rooted in but not limited to niggunim, wordless songs from European Jewish traditional music. No prior knowledge/experience needed.

Squeezebox from Scratch - Absolute Beginners D/G Melodeon

Sun 11:30am - 1:00pm

Ed Rennie and Helena Painting

The workshops aim to give the participants a basis of good techniques from the start which will pay dividends in the longer term. The step by step teaching method combined with the tablature means by the end of the workshop they will have played at least one tune and have the tools to play further tunes, even if they cannot read music yet. We say yet because many, by using the tablature, have found they have inadvertently learned that skill as a by-product. We have a bank of 17 good quality Hohner melodeons which can be used by the budding musicians who would like to try out but don’t have access to an instrument. The workshops have a limit of 20 places, to include anyone who may have brought or borrowed an instrument. This is a repeat of the workshop from Saturday to hopefully allow anyone who wants a try to have a chance.

Waltzing from 1 to 11

Sun 11:30am - 12:30pm

Andrew Walbran

An introduction to balfolk waltzes, regular and irregular. We’ll start by getting the basics of a regular 3-time waltz, talking about how a typical balfolk style of waltz differs from other kinds of waltz, and then see how far we can get with irregular waltzes in 5, 8 or even 11.

Wear smooth-soled shoes that you can turn easily in

Congo de Captieux

Sun 12:45pm - 1:45pm

Joséphine Maury

Congo de Captieux is a 4 person dance from the south west of France. I recommend you attend the Rondeau workshop first, but it’s not a necessity as we can use a simplified step. Please bring a scarf that you can wear around you neck or waist to help visualise how the 2 roles move around (only half of you will need it)

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