Biography

Short version

Mike is a dancer and caller from Berkshire, who calls at clubs, public dances, ceilidhs and festivals throughout the country.

Mike enjoys calling American square & contra dances, Running Set, English, and English Ceilidh dances, especially smooth-flowing dances with a bit of zest.

Mike is very keen to make folk dancing fun and accessible to everyone, at all levels of expertise and ability, and is known for his clear, concise and good humoured calling. He firmly believes that dances are only as complicated as the caller makes them.

Mike began folk dancing in 1970, and has been calling since 1981. He and wife Rita met at a dance in 1973, and have been regular dancers of numerous dance styles ever since; and are familiar faces at major dances & festivals.

Long version

Mike is a dancer and caller from Hungerford, Berkshire, who calls at clubs, public dances, ceilidhs and festivals throughout the country.

Mike enjoys calling American square & contra dances, Running Set, English, and English Ceilidh dances, especially smooth-flowing dances with a bit of zest; and has been a freelance caller from the outset, preferring to work with a wide variety of bands.

Mike is very keen to make folk dancing accessible to all, at all levels of expertise and ability, and is known for his clear, concise and good humoured calling. He firmly believes that dances are only as complicated as the caller makes them. He is just as happy working with children, physically handicapped (eg PHAB), and novice dancers, as he is with expert dancers, but preferably not all at once!

Mike caters for a wide spectrum of dance events, from folk dances for experts, at clubs, days of dance, residential weeks/weekends and festivals, through energetic English Ceilidhs and American Contras, to barn dances for weddings, parties, and village events.

Mike has called at: Sidmouth, Chippenham, Lichfield, Eastbourne, Whitby, Bromyard, IVFDF, Broadstairs, and Bridport Festivals; Zesty-Contra House-Party; Folk Camps Festival in Germany; residential events in Symonds Yat, Westward Ho!, Halsway Manor and on the Isle Of Wight; Alcester, Guildford, Leeds, Halsway, and White Horse contra-dance series; English Ceilidhs at Chippenham and Oxford Festivals, plus the White Horse, Sheffield, Unicorn, and Reeling in Ealing Ceilidhs; and even did a barn dance for his work colleagues in Hawaii !!

Mike began folk dancing in 1970, whilst at University, and started calling soon after moving to Berkshire from London in 1981. He and wife Rita met at a dance in 1973, and have been regular dancers of numerous dance styles ever since (including American Square & Contra, Running Set, English, English Ceilidh, and Irish Set-Dance); and are familiar faces at major dances & festivals.

Mike was Dance Director for the Chippenham Folk Festival 2004-2020, during which he increased the number of dance events from 39 to 72 to match its growing popularity. Mike has a particular interest in training callers in the Art of Calling, and was responsible for re-establishing the Callers’ Workshop & Showcase Dance for Sidmouth ’98 & ’99. He introduced similar workshops at Chippenham, as well as caller-mentoring. He is also working hard to keep social dancing alive & well, and more attractive to young adults.

Mike & Rita’s sons Chris and Adam are also regular English Ceilidh dancers, and have both become drummers (!). Adam was a member of the NYFTE team for 6 years, then formed his own ceilidh band “Pepper in the Brandy”, then became drummer with Ceilidhography, and is now drummer with Random Band, as well as a freelance drummer. Adam has also been heavily involved in Chippenham Folk Festival management since 2003. For the Courthold household, folk is very much a family affair.

During the day Mike works as a cryogenic and control systems engineer at the UKRI/STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and has been involved since 1973 in providing some very big toys for fellow physicists, including LEP and LHC at CERN.