Callers

The callers for 2021 are

Seth Tepfer (USA)
Louise Siddons (USA)
Ian Jones
David & Kathryn Wright
Ivan Aitken
John and Karen Sweeney
Christine Dodd

Host for the Come All Ye

Neil Franklin

Louise Siddons

Louise is a Contra and English country dance caller based in Oklahoma (USA). She began calling English in 2008 and has been calling contras since 2010. She calls dances regularly throughout Oklahoma and across the United States, and is also often in the UK. As a caller and dance teacher, she strives to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere with her low-key and light-hearted stage presence. Believing that one of the greatest strengths of traditional dance is its long history of adaptation, she favours descriptive terminology over jargon. She calls a mixture of modern and historic dances in a variety of formations, and enjoys helping dancers discover the musicality of choreography, from the familiar to the unexpected.

Louise has been very active during lockdown in presenting Zoom sessions with adaptations for singles and couples, to keep us all dancing when bigger events had to be postponed.

Seth Tepfer

Seth Tepfer is "Atlanta's Dance Magician," calling dances for adults and children like you've never seen before. Known for his infectious energy, his short walk-through's, and his 'hash-contras', Seth's warm enthusiasm is contagious; he makes sure everyone is having a great time. Whether squares, contras, or other folk dances, you can be certain that all involved - novices and experienced dancers alike - will amble away happy and eager to dance more!

Seth has been calling since 1997. In that time he has called over 500 gigs and delighted dancers from 5 to 95 across the USA. This is his second Lichfield Folk Festival, and he has done UK tours, and has also been booked in Canada, the Caribbean, and Costa Rica.

Seth has also been very active on Zoom!

Ian Jones

Ian was introduced to folk dancing by his parents at about the age of ten and has been involved ever since. He started calling whilst at Liverpool University in the sixties and, with his wife Margaret, was much influenced by the expertise and advice of Ethel Anderson. Over sixty years on he is not only an experienced caller but also a musician; see section on the band Kendal Green, below, and he led the popular band Cumbrian Gap for over thirty years.

After a day of dance in Warwickshire led by Ian a correspondent to the Milverton Folk Dance Group’s newsletter wrote: Ian’s “calling was achieved with a sureness of touch, always aware and with a gentle humour which never belittled the efforts or misfortunes of the dancers …. the afternoon session was, for me, just about as good as a workshop can get”.

Ian has called at all the major festivals including Eastbourne, Lichfield, Chippenham, Southam and Bromyard. His opening dance with Belshazzar’s Feast at the 2001 Sidmouth Festival was rated one of the highlights of the week and certainly one of the funniest, which highlights another of Ian’s characteristics as a caller; he achieves a perfect balance between clarity of presentation and good humour to make his sessions lively and enjoyable. Ian is particularly keen on working with dancers to achieve that highest of goals: “making the music visible”. Indeed, his first workshop is exactly on that topic – how to make our dancing more musical.

Ian’s Saturday night will be a splendid mixture of styles ‘A Bit of This and That – mostly that’, whilst on Sunday morning he will look at choreographers from Dale to Wallace via Roodman.

David and Kathryn Wright

Kathryn and David - "The Wrights of Lichfield" in the title of one of Gary Roodman's dances - have been calling as a duo for over 30 years and run a popular series of dance workshops in Lichfield. They have previously called at Casterton, Chippenham, EIFF, Lichfield, Morland, Sidmouth, Southam and Whitby and weekend AADS courses in Belgium.

They have published some their own researched and original dances in "Wrights' Humours" and "The Vesey Collection" and their dance "Freeford Gardens" seems to crop up in programmes all over the world. Their tastes in social dance are wide, from Playford to New England squares and contras, old and new, simple and complex. They enjoy the challenge of making a difficult dance accessible and also like to encourage the integration of good dance technique with dancers' enjoyment of the dance figures.

Apart from being actively involved with the Lichfield Folk Dance club, they are part of the team running the Hampton in Arden monthly dance series and the ever-popular Lichfield Annual Ball. Midland dancers especially enjoy their carefully planned Sunday evening dances once a month.

On Saturday evening they will interpret "Playford" in the broadest sense to include other Dancing Masters, as well as more recent compositions in Playford style

Their first workshop will be a grand tour of dances interpreted or composed by Tom Cook, and on Sunday morning they will present Maggots, in and out of pies. (Dances from Maggot Pie and ones with "Maggot" in the title.). Their final workshop includes both English and American style dances, all from Gary Roodman.

Ivan Aitken

Ivan Aitken, from Reading in Berkshire, is a caller with many years’ 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.

He is also becoming well-known for his dance creations. Such delights as Still Russian Around quickly catch on and spread through the dancing community, and we hope he will soon publish his dances.

At Lichfield this year his workshops include both American style and Playford style. His workshop titles are very descriptive, and we all know what fun they will be, no doubt with unusual reels and set sizes.

We send our best wishes to Ivan and his family for his complete and speedy recovery. We anticipate and hope that he will be well enough to join us in 2021.

John and Karen Sweeney

John and Karen run regular dances in Ashford and Maidstone under the name Contrafusion; they have danced, taught, called, performed, competed and judged all over the world. They visit festivals and clubs as often as they can to dance and to discover new ideas, including annual visits to America to pick up all the latest American styling and technique. They have been dancing since the Sixties and John has been teaching various forms of dance for nearly 50 years; he is a qualified dance teacher and this shows in his calling where he unobtrusively includes technique hints and tips, and teaches styling to add more fun to the dancing. The tremendous feedback shows how much the dancers appreciate the technique and style information.

For many years now John has focussed on social folk dancing, calling and teaching: American Contra & Square Dance, Appalachian Running Set, Playford/English Dance plus freeform Waltz & Polka. He has called at many major festivals including Chippenham, Eastbourne, Sidmouth and Folk Madness (New Mexico), and it is wonderful that at last we have been able to coordinate dates so that he can call at Lichfield.

Their first workshop uses contra dances to show How to be a Wonderful Partner, including Attitude & Style. John & Karen will explore timing & connection to make the dances feel better for everyone and be easier to execute; they will also teach American style, innovation, flourishes and twirls, with lots of fun dances to practise your new skills.

Later on Saturday you can dream the afternoon away to John’s Set Dances in Waltz Time - beautiful flowing dances, contras, squares, circles and more!

John and Karen operate smoothly as a husband and wife team to teach couple dances, and their Sunday session is a chance for all to explore the fabulous world of waltzing. Many dances end with the band playing a free waltz, and whilst revolving around the room with your partner is lovely, it is tremendously satisfying to be able to add some extra moves to take the experience up a notch. John will briefly teach the basics and then lead us through some easy “add-ons”, demonstrating them with Karen in such a way as to make it easy for us to imitate. They have run such workshops with great success at other festivals, and we know you will also enjoy them. No need to bring a partner.

Christine Dodd

Christine and her husband Stephen were latecomers to folk dancing. They started in 2007 when a former caller from Lichfield Folk dance club, Michael Platt, started a beginners' class at their church. They went along just to try it out and were hooked straight away. Michael then introduced Christine and Stephen to local clubs and they soon found themselves dancing three times a week. They joined the committee at Walsall club and were asked to try calling a couple of dances. Christine tried calling and found she enjoyed it, so went from there to calling regularly at Walsall, Lichfield and other clubs. She was fortunate to have Geof Owen as her mentor and received a lot of help from many other callers including Colin Hume.

Her calling style is clear, and her easy manner delights dancers. She has an extensive repertoire and presents it beautifully.

Neil Franklin

Neil has been dancing since childhood, and calling for many years around the Midlands. He runs the Friendly Folk club in Solihull, and he is secretary to the Lichfield Folk Festival committee and keeps us all in order. This Festival he is MC for the Come All Ye