Andrew Shaw was dragged kicking and screaming to his first country dance asa teenager back in the 60s but has got over that and is now one of the most respected English Country Dance leaders, sought after for his detailed knowledge and precise instruction.
He has run the Lemmings Reprieve dance club for over 30 years and his annual Kyndred Spirits course is always sold out, attracting as it does an international group of dancers. Although he sometimes calls modern dances in the same style, 17th and 18th century ECD is his passion. He researches, reconstructs, then teaches these dances, not as museum pieces, but in a way that will appeal to the dancers of today, whilst retaining respect for the originals and great interest in their historical context. He has published five collections of dance reconstructions and CDs to date, with a sixth, The Irish Howle, in preparation.
He is a true believer in the value of dancing well: that doing so can raise the dancer to another level, that dancing, like singing, is one of life’s redeeming pleasures, that lemmings may indeed be reprieved.
Hilary needs little introduction to dance afficionados, and we are delighted to welcome her back to Lichfield. Her dance compositions, often intricate and never boring, are part of the appeal of her sessions, coupled with the sense of fun she brings to the stage.
Hilary has been dancing and calling for many years. She enjoys teaching and calling a wide variety of dances, old and new, simple and complex, but she particularly likes dances that "make you think". She always finds festivals a pleasure, especially the opportunity to meet and dance with old friends, and she is looking forward to returning to Lichfield (as are we).
Ivan Aitken, from Reading in Berkshire, is a caller with many years of experience. He calls at many local clubs, and festival appearances include Broadstairs, Bromyard, Chippenham, Eastbourne and Sidmouth. His extensive repertoire includes "old favourites", modern dances and everything in between. He has a very clear way of explaining even the most complicated moves and is equally at ease calling for experienced dancers or beginners.
Ivan is also becoming well-known for his dance creations, which quickly spread through the dancing community, and we hope he will soon publish his dances.
Scottish Country Dancing has been part of Nicola’s life since university. There she became hooked and has become deeply involved in the folk dance scene in
Birmingham and the West Midlands.
She has called at local folk dance clubs where the dancers enjoy her unique mix of Scottish, English and contra dances, as well as fun ceilidhs. More recently she has been spreading her wings to call at Saturday night dances, and she is already an established favourite caller at the Alcester Contra Dance series. Her calling style is upbeat, friendly and above all very clear, and she has established a well-deserved reputation for concise wording to get everyone dancing well and enjoying the dance.
She is a popular RSCDS qualified Scottish dance teacher, and has previously visited Lichfield to call a Scottish dance workshop, as well as to dance with us. We are also delighted to welcome her onto the Festival Committee. You are sure to hear more of her in the future!
Rhodri Davies is a caller with nearly 40 years experience of calling dances for clubs and festivals. He has a variety of styles including contras, squares, ceilidh, English country dance and Playford. He also encourages new callers.
Rhodri became a folk dancer at Manchester University where he studied Computer Science. His contemporaries included Bob Archer and Elmo Eldridge at the University Folk Dance Club, and he helped with IVFDF. He developed his calling from Mark Elvins at Sidmouth in 1987, having previously MC’d barn dances.
He has pioneered the Zesty Playford manifesto, to make dancing Playford dances fun, though he is quite happy for people to dance it their own way. He now has a Youtube channel with videos of performances, tips on dancing and advice on calling. At Lichfield this year look out for a range of workshops from improving dance style to some of his own creations.
Neil is not only the hard-working secretary to the Festival Committee, but also a notable caller in the West Midlands area. He has also written many dances, and some of these may make an appearance during the weekend.
Somehow he also finds time to grow a lot of delectable produce in his vast garden, organise the Friendly Folk dance club on Monday nights in Solihull, as well as attending many dance events, amongst which Regency dancing is a current favourite.