The dances and the caller
All the dances at a ceilidh or a barn dance are traditional country dances, or are new dances written in the traditional style using traditional figures. There is always a dance caller who will decide which dances to do, and will walk through the dances first, and then call the figures during the dance until people know what they're doing. The caller will choose suitable dances that will fit nicely with the tunes that he knows the band can play, and that are at a suitable level for the experience and competence of the dancers on the night. There may be a rough plan made in advance, but a good caller will always adapt and vary the dances depending on how the dancers react to the dances during the night, bringing in simpler or more interesting dances as appropriate when needed.
The caller also acts as M.C. for the evening. A good caller will interact with the audience and ensure that everyone there has a great time, whether or not they pick up the dances quickly and easily.
Some bands have their own caller who is part of the band, but many callers work with a number of different groups. Nowadays Phil usually calls the dances, but we also work with various other really good local callers from time to time, including Alison Riggal, Laz Gilbert, Stephen Gee, Marie Rogers and Vicky Johnson.