Biography



Short version

Mike is a dancer and caller from Hungerford, Berkshire. He is a regular caller at local clubs, and also calls for dances, ceilidhs and workshops at clubs and festivals throughout the country.

Mike is very keen to make folk dancing accessible to all, at all levels of expertise and ability, and 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 firmly believes that a dance is only as complicated as the caller makes it.

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

Mike began folk dancing in 1970 whilst at University. He and wife Rita met at a Bernard Chalk dance in 1973, and they have been regular dancers of American Square & Contra, Running Set, English, English Ceilidh, and Irish Set-Dance ever since; and are familiar faces at major dances & festivals.



Long version

Mike has been calling for 38 years, since moving from London to Hungerford, Berkshire in 1981,`and caters for a wide spectrum of dancers and events, from social 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 been a freelance caller from the outset, preferring to work with a wide variety of bands. He is very keen to make folk dancing accessible to all, at all levels of expertise and ability, and 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 firmly believes that a dance is only as complicated as the caller makes it.

Mike enjoys calling a mixture of American and English dances, especially smooth-flowing dances with a bit of zest, as well as Running Set, and English Ceilidh dances.

Mike has called at Sidmouth, Chippenham, Lichfield, Eastbourne, Whitby, Bromyard, IVFDF and Broadstairs 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; Contra dances for Alcester, Guildford, Leeds, Halsway and White Horse contra series; English Ceilidhs at Chippenham and Oxford Festivals, plus the White Horse, Sheffield, and Reeling in Ealing Ceilidhs; and even did a barn dance for his work colleagues in Hawaii !! He has particular interest in training callers in the Art of Calling, and was responsible for resurrecting the Callers’ Workshop & Showcase Dance for Sidmouth ’98 & ’99. Since becoming Dance Director for Chippenham Folk Festival in 2004, he has introduced similar workshops there too; and is also working hard to keep social dancing alive & well, and more attractive to young adults.

Mike began folk dancing in 1970 whilst at University. He and wife Rita met at a Bernard Chalk dance in 1973, and they have been regular dancers of American Square & Contra, Running Set, English, English Ceilidh, and Irish Set-Dance ever since; and are familiar faces at major dances & festivals. Their 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 freelance drummer. 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 STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and has been involved for 46 years in providing some very big toys for fellow physicists, including LEP and LHC at CERN.