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At the heart of English folk
Dance Development

Dance Development

EFDSS’ Dance Development programme aims to support the development and flourishing of English folk dance in areas such as youth and adult learning, participation, and practitioner development.

We want more people, and a wider range of people, in communities across England to experience and enjoy English folk dance.


What is English folk dance?

English folk dance encompasses a rich diversity of dance forms that have developed over many centuries in communities throughout England. These traditions are alive and thriving as part of a living and evolving tradition, alongside many other forms of traditional dance present in England today.

Folk dance styles include:

  • Morris: Cotswold, border, North West, molly and carnival
  • Sword: rapper and longsword
  • Percussive: clog and step dance
  • Social: ceilidh, barn, country, Playford and Cornish
  • Other: maypole, broom dancing and hobby horse


Ongoing and upcoming events

We offer training and networking opportunities for folk dancers, educators and callers to develop their skills in dancing, teaching and leading in varied settings.

As well as running the Folk Educators Group and other professional development courses, we deliver one-day training courses. We are continuously developing new partnerships with dance organisations to deliver these courses and events around the country.

Callers' Development Day - This development day, presented by EFDSS’ Folk Educators Group and Dance Development programme, is for experienced and aspiring callers who wish to expand and share their knowledge and skills in calling for social folk dance in varied contexts and settings.

The day will include presentations, panel discussions and workshops, alongside the opportunity to discuss and debate issues around calling and caller training. 


Past events

How To Teach English Social Folk Dance – sharing knowledge and skills in teaching in schools, community settings and adult learning.

Keeping Folk Dancers On Their Feet – an introduction to safe and effective dance practice.  

Steps for Success: English Social Folk Dance Today - a national conference presented in partnership with People Dancing which took place at Cecil Sharp House on 10 March 2018. Find out more and watch the film.


Work with Young People

Folk dance is an inclusive, accessible, sociable and fun dance form. Working with young people is important because they are able to learn valuable skills and knowledge, inspiring the next generation of folk dancers.

Folk dance in schools and colleges

EFDSS’ Education programme – works with dance in education in varied contexts including its recent national project The Full English.

Folk Dance in Schools – this short film shows different folk dance styles in creative learning projects at all key stages in schools across England.

Youth Dance

We are creating partnerships and championing youth folk dance across the country, including with One Dance UK’s U.Dance national youth dance festival.

Below are links to recent and past EFDSS youth dance projects:

U.Dance 2019a short film sharing our Folk Dance and Music Day at the Southbank Centre, London as part of the national youth dance festival.

Maypole Remixed- a youth dance performance, created by Folk Dance Remixed, commissioned by EFDSS for U.Dance 2018, the nation’s annual youth dance festival at DanceEast in Ipswich.

U.Dance 2017 -  a taster video made by One Dance UK about U.Dance 2017, including footage from a youth ceilidh EFDSS helped organise with caller Ben Moss and the Will Pound Band.

Life Remixed – a youth dance performance, created by Folk Dance Remixed, commissioned by EFDSS with North West Dance for U.Dance 2016 at The Lowry, Salford.

Youth Folk Dance Showcase – for U.Dance 2012 captured in this short film I love English folk dance! 

Spring Force – a morris contemporary youth dance piece commissioned by EFDSS in 2010 in partnership with Pavilion Dance South West.

Inter Varsity Folk Dance Festival

We have been forging links with IVFDF since 2015. We look forward to continuing our support at IVFDF 2020 which will take place in Nottingham from 6-8 March 2020.


Dance Resources

We produce many high quality resources for teachers and dance educators.

EFDSS Resource Bank – freely downloadable materials, including teachers’ notes, audio files and video. Pre-selected Dance Resources here.

EFDSS Folkshop – books and CDs to support dance teaching, including best-sellers, English Traditional Dancing and Community Dances Manual.

The Folk Dance Playlist by EFDSS – a diverse selection of folk dance tracks, curated by EFDSS Dance Development Manager, Laura Connelly. The playlist covers a wide variety of style, tempo and regionality. 

Dance at Cecil Sharp House

Find out more about our regular English Country Dancing, Next Steps in English Country Dancing and Morris Dance classes for adults, Youth Ceilidhs and Family Barn Dances, as well as evening dances and ceilidhs on the Cecil Sharp House website.


Get in touch

If you’ve got any questions or ideas, please contact:

Laura Connolly, Dance Development Manager (part-time) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 020 7241 8953

Join our EFDSS Education Newsletter to keep up to date with our work!


Supported by

Legacies from the late Rita Smyth and Jennifer Millest.