I occasionally call barn dances with my husbands band (traditional Irish), and today I did just that at Butser Ancient Farm, surrounded by smoking round houses, sheep and pigs! I was brought up with folk music and dancing, so this little hobby is something I can do without any prior thought or training.I often see it as a bit of a chore – to help out the band – but usually end up having fun. Being a classical ballet teacher, I am probably guilty of looking down on folk dancing as a lesser craft, anyone can do it. However, reflecting on today, it took a lot of encouragement to get guests up to dance, reassuring them that the dances are simple and fun. Once they are up, looking a mixture of nervousness and embarrassment, I slowly mark them through the steps and patterns, laughing and joking with them to put them at their ease. EMPATHY. I then signal the band to start, and coach them through the dance, calling out instructions, dos i dos and right hand star, at just the right count for cognition to become reaction so the dance moves forward. MUSICALITY.  I laugh with them when they get it wrong. REASSURANCE. I finished the day with a simple circle dance with the family and friends of the bride and groom, bringing everyone together to wish them both well for their future together. OFFICIATE/MC/CLOSURE. I learned a lot today: This was a very important day for two people, and I was MC. The guests looked to me to organise their enjoyment of the afternoon. This dancing was FUN, as long as I kept them safe and allowed them to feel good about dancing – something most of these people never do. I kept reminding myself that these dances would have originally been danced like this – outdoors, on the grass, and by people with no formal dance training. 50 people, young and old, danced in the sun today, and laughed, and went home happy. I feel humbled. I have looked at this experience as I would not have, had I not had to try and write a blog about it!


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