IVFDF workshops happen in the mornings of the Saturday and Sunday. They are run by volunteers who can lead 1-hour long workshops in lots of different folk traditions, including dance, music, history and even games!

The workshop schedule for the weekend can be seen below. Pick your workshops, and find more information about them further down the page.

  1. Accessibility for Workshops
  2. Workshop Schedule
  3. Workshop Descriptions

Accessibility for Workshops

Red, orange, green and grey on the schedule below represent how accessible the workshops are to those with limited mobility and attendees who use a wheelchair.
Red means the venue is either inaccessible or has very limited accessibility to those who use a wheelchair or have severely reduced mobility. These venues are The Cygnet Workshop Space and ‘The Hall’. The Cygnet Workshop Space is on the first floor of the Cygnet Theatre, with no lift. The only entrance to ‘The Hall’ is on a steep cobbled street (Stepcote Hill) with three steps up from the street into the Hall itself. There is a steep portable ramp that can be used to avoid the steps, but it does not avoid the cobbles.
Orange means the venue is accessible but the content of the workshop may be inaccessible. These workshops include the Morris workshops, as these can be difficult for those in a wheelchair because they use sticks or similar while dancing. The other workshops that may be difficult to access are Dances for the Brave, because the nature of the workshop is that the dances are more difficult than usual; and the Constant Contra Medley, as there are no walkthroughs, and it is continuous – it is often necessary to signal to someone to take your place if you want a break.
Green means the venue is very accessible and we do not expect there to be any major accessibility issues with the content of the workshops.
Grey means that the venue is accessible, and the space has nothing going on in that slot, and so can be used as a quiet room by anyone who wants some time to themselves.

If you want any more information about accessibility at the festival, contact us.

Workshop Schedule

Workshop Descriptions

Footwork for the terrified
Elizabeth Lawson
Nobody’s born being able to do traditional dance. So if you’re new to dancing, or some of it’s all a mystery this is for you. I’ll be running a safe, friendly workshop looking at some of the basic steps you might want to use, including a variety of ways of setting, travelling steps and maybe even how to rant.

Beginners’ Bal
Isobel Priest (she/her)
Balfolk is roughly a french ceilidh, with an exciting variety of partner dances and group dances. This is a whistlestop tour through the basic dances you will find at the Bal in the evening! Bals are not called so it is useful to practise in advance. Suitable for absolute beginners.

Folk Singing for and about Dancing
Paul Wilson, Wren Music
This fun exploratory workshop will give you the chance to sing together and explore traditional songs in harmony. We’ll learn traditional songs from Devon, the West country and further afield. We will adopt the festival theme of dance and explore singing for dancing as well as songs about dancing. No experience necessary and no need to read music.

Rueda! Social Salsa Dance in a circle
Nisha Lall (she/her), DANCE:SOCIAL
Blurb: A fun and fast style of social salsa in a circle with a caller. Learn the basic of salsa with a partner and how these are then danced in a circle with other partners. Leave knowing the names of rueda moves that you can then use in your own social dancing.

Solo Irish Step Dancing
Annette Collins (she/her)
A solo Irish workshop in Old Style Traditional dance – where steps stay close to the floor.
Learn “Maggie Pickens” – a traditional dance from Donegal, no prior Irish dance experience necessary.

Irish 2-hand Dances
Annette Collins (she/her)
A workshop where you will learn couple dances from Donegal, that can be danced to the following tune types: Highland, Barndance, Waltz, Polka.

Traditional singing
Jackie Oates (she/her)
Jackie is an award-winning musician who is well known for her beautiful singing voice. She is one of the leading musicians singing English traditional music and a brilliant teacher. In this workshop she will give you a crash course on how to sing confidently in a traditional style. You will be able to take away a song or two for your next song session (or indeed the IVFDF one). No need to read music.

Sylvia Child, Aurora
Aurora Appalachian Display Team are leading this Appalachian Dance workshop aimed at all levels. We like to challenge the more experienced and achieve something fun and flashy for newbies. We will be teaching parts of our own repertoire and find a fun combination of steps to put together depending which of our team is leading your sun group. We always like to have fun.

Folky Games
Elion Budden (he/they)
Come along to make new friends, learn new games and have some fun. If you have a game you want to share, there will be time for this too. Just to clarify, these are circle games not board games. Also no obligation to play, feel free to watch and then decide if you want to join in.

What is a caller for?
Lisa Heywood (she/her), DANCE:SOCIAL
Callers have many different roles, which vary depending on the audience, event and dance style we’re calling for. Tailoring our calling to the context is an important skill to continuously reflect on and develop, whether you’re a seasoned caller or just starting out. Join Lisa Heywood for a mix of practical activities and discussion exploring calling and context, open to callers of all styles and levels of experience.

Basic Bal variations
Isobel Priest (she/her)
Every bal has a chapelloise and some bourrees. You can add lots of fun variations to these dances, but how do you lead and follow with the limited physical connection? This workshop will go through some interesting things you can do in these dances and give lots of time to actually practising how to make them happen on the social floor. Suitable for anyone who knows the basics of chapelloise/bourree.

IVFDF Annual Representatives Meeting
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 2023, have an update on 2024, vote on IVFDF 2025 and discuss any improvements for future IVFDFs.
Each university society should send 2 reps to vote on IVFDF 2024 and 2025.

Social dance fusion
Join Lisa Heywood and Nisha Lall from DANCE:SOCIAL for a practical creative workshop. We’ll play around with different ways to dance socially, drawing from a variety of styles – including ceilidh, Salsa, Bhangra and Bollywood. Expect to work together with others and do plenty of dancing!

Scratch Band Part I
Martin Hughes (he/him)
If you want to play for Folk Dancing (or already do) then this is the workshop for you. We will run through the music to be used in the Survivors’ Ceilidh, including hints and tips based on Martin’s experience. Much of the music is played in sessions and many of the tunes will be familiar, uplifting and provide easy listening as well as driving the dancing. This is the first of two scratch band workshops.

Dances for the Brave
Rhodri Davies (he/him)
Dances for the Brave…. Or the foolhardy! A selection of challenging dances in different formations and styles. You may even be one of the people to survive Rhod’s Revenge! Not for the faint of heart or light headed.

Beginners’ Contra
Sol Loreto-Miller (she/they)
Come and learn contra dancing! Contra is the American evolution of ceilidh or barn dance; it’s smooth, spinny and amazing fun. You’ll learn how to do a contra swing, how to give weight, how to do the most common contra moves, and more! All teaching will be gender-free; we’ll mostly use gender-free role names but will touch on positional (role-free) calling as well. Wear comfy, smooth-soled shoes.

Session Playing
Min Wild (she/her)
Any instrument, any level, by ear tune workshop session where we’ll explore how session playing works. Bring your instrument and your favourite tunes to swap and share. Mainly English tunes but we will travel!

Border Dances
Lin Steel, Enigma Morris
We will be offering a fun border Morris workshop for anyone to have a go at. We will aim to do 2 dances but will see how everyone gets on.

Dancing in a time of turmoil
Elizabeth Lawson
A divided country, a terrible relationship with Europe, tension with Scotland, welcome to fifteenth century England! But in the midst of the turmoil, one man carefully copied a series of dance choreographies into his notebook, which survived til the present day. We’ll be doing a selection of dances from it together with a couple from the sixteenth century. If you’ve been to one of my workshops before, I will be including some new dances for you to try.

Indian Classical Fusion
Shinjini (Jini) Basu (she/her)
Come get an introduction to two Classical Indian dance forms: Bharatanatyam and Kathak. Based around the art of story-telling through dance, in this workshop we’ll first cover some basic hand shapes or mudras, standing and seated postures and learn to spin without getting too dizzy! We’ll then use these to do some basic choreography set to some unconventional tunes.

Cotswold Stick Dances with Interesting Heys
Jenny Cahill (she/her), Glory of the West Morris
Glory of the West dance Cotswold Morris in their own slick style and Jenny and the team are looking forward to keeping you on your toes with some variations on the “morris hey” in which the dancers usually trace out a figure of 8 as they move past one another. We will focus on stick dances and will provide sticks for you, but feel free to bring your own if you have one.

Euclid in the Cotswolds
Colin Andrews (he/him), Exeter Morris, Winkleigh Morris
Colin, part of Exeter Morris and Winkleigh Morris sides, will take you through two Cotswold Morris style handkerchief dances with interesting geometric formations. Some previous experience of Morris is preferable but not essential.

Dimensions of Balfolk Variations
Andrew Walbran (he/him)
You know the basic steps of some balfolk dances, now what? Balfolk is all about improvisation, so let’s add some variations to your toolbox. We’ll look at four dimensions of variation: direction, rhythm, weight and style. You should be comfortable leading and following schottische, waltz and mazurka.

Niggun Sing – A song session without words
Isaac Montagu (any)
Back again for another niggun sing! This will be a session with a difference – no instruments or lyrics allowed. Rooted in but not limited to the wordless song tradition of Ashkenazi Jewish communities. All welcome.

Scratch Band Part II
Martin Hughes (he/him)
If you want to play for Folk Dancing (or already do) then this is the workshop for you. We will run through the music to be used in the Survivors’ Ceilidh, including hints and tips based on Martin’s experience. Much of the music is played in sessions and many of the tunes will be familiar, uplifting and provide easy listening as well as driving the dancing. This is the second of two scratch band workshops.

Constant Contra Medley
Cavalcade of Callers
Just Keep Dancing! Allow a cavalcade of IVFDF’s finest contra dance callers to guide you through a constant stream of contra dance – no walkthroughs and no interruptions! If you want a break or to ask somebody else to dance, just stop dancing at the end of the set and join back in when you’re ready. Suitable for dancers comfortable with common contra figures.

Intro to Solo Jazz Dance
Pete Marsh (he/him)
Ever wanted to dance solo like those swinging, bombastic cats from the 1920’s? Grab your best flapper dress or hat and braces and come learn the basics of solo swing dance! This will be an energetic but fun and low-stakes workshop aimed at those who have never danced jazz before.

If you would like to lead a workshop at IVFDF 2023, you can fill in our form here. Available spaces are marked in grey on the timetable.