Playford-to-the-Present Ball

The DancesEvents Schedule
The CommitteeContact

Saturday, October 5, 2019: It’s our 19th Annual Southern California English Country Dance Ball! Dancing Mistress Joanna Reiner and live music by Shira Kammen, Jim Oakden, and Jeffrey Spero.

The ball is geared toward knowledgeable English Country dancers; there will be no teaching at the ball. Most dances will be briefed with a walk-through and lightly prompted. Some advanced dances will not be briefed or prompted. It is assumed that all dancers are either knowledgeable with these particular dances or are experienced enough to pick up patterns on just one walk through. Several of the dances have complex figures that will require familiarity before the day of the ball even for very experienced dancers.


The Pasadena Scottish Rite Cathedral is located at 150 N. Madison Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101. There is free parking in the parking lot on the north side of the hall. The entrance to the hall is on the north side of the building.

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Live music, wonderful dances, sumptuous refreshments – all that for only $40 before August 1st, 2019 ($50 afterwards). Pre-registration is required beginning in May. See our REGISTRATION FLYER .

6:00 p.m.Doors open
6:30 p.m.Dancing begins. There will be two breaks with light refreshments.

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The Dances

Ball Dance Program

The Minor Spaniard (S):

Dick’s Maggot (I/C):

Bellamira (I):

Mayfair (C):

Sunlight through Draperies (S):

Mile of Smiles (S):

The Costumer’s Delight (C, FTWK):

Leslie’s Valentine (I):

Emperor of the Moon (I):

Sally in our Alley (I):

Freeford Gardens (S):

X Ackley (C):

The Dusty Miller (I):

A Trip to Kilburn (I/C):

The Homecoming (I):

(S = Simple, I = Intermediate, C = Complex, FTWK = For Those Who Know—no instruction)

Dance instructions will be provided in the Ball booklet sent to each registrant.

For additional links to videos go to the Lambertville Country Dancers ECD Video List.

There are several opportunities to learn these dances before the Ball. The best way to learn dances is to regularly attend your local dance series (including Culver City English Country Dance).

The dances will be taught at the Ball Practice/Style Workshops mentioned in the Events Schedule.

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Events Schedule

Ball Practice/Style Workshop 1Culver City4:00p-7:00pSundaySeptember 15
Ball Practice/Style Workshop 2Culver City4:00p-7:00pSundaySeptember 29
Ball ReviewPasadena 17:00p-10:00pFridayOctober 4
The Playford BallPasadena 26:30p-10:30pSaturdayOctober 5

Culver City: Lindberg Park Stone House, 5041 Rhoda Way (on the corner of Rhoda Way and Ocean Drive). Admission: $10.

Pasadena 1: Pasadena Senior Center, 85 E. Holly Street. Admission: $15.

Pasadena 2: Pasadena Scottish Rite Cathedral, 150 N. Madison Avenue. Pre-registration required.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does “Playford” mean?

John Playford was the publisher of The English Dancing Master, or Plaine and easie Rules for the Dancing of Country Dances, with the Tune to Each Dance, considered the first English Country Dance (ECD) manual published.

In modern ECD, a “Playford” ball is one in which there is no basic teaching at the ball itself, and the dancers can enjoy the dancing with no teaching and very little prompting.

How is this ball different from a regular local dance?

At an ongoing dance series (sometimes referred to as a class), time is taken to explain and teach each dance figure and pattern. At the Playford-to-the Present ball, there will be no teaching; each dance will have one walk-though and be prompted for the first few repetitions. It is assumed that all dancers are either familiar with these particular dances or are experienced enough to pick up dances on just one walk through.

How do I know if I’m experienced enough to attend?

Dancers attending the ball should be familiar with standard modern ECD figures such as hey, rights and lefts, siding, poussette, cast and lead, gate, double-figure-eight, etc. and be able to do them without explanation when prompted. Some people will catch on right away; for others it will take longer. Regular and frequent attendance at dances is the best way to reach that level of confidence with the dancing.

How can I learn these dances?

One way is to attend the Ball Practice and Style Workshops that are put on shortly before the ball. One does not need to be registered for the ball to attend the practices.

Written instructions for the dances will be available in a booklet sent to all ball registrants. In addition to the special workshops and practice sessions, dancers are encouraged to use the instructions to learn the dances on their own. Videos of some of the dances may be available on YouTube. Be creative! Go through the steps by yourself in your living room or backyard. Or get a set of friends together and have an informal dance party.

Many local dances will have special practices or sessions dedicated to the Ball dances. Talk to your local dance leader to find out if that will happen in your community. To find out about dancing in your area, check out this regional list of regular local dances

What will people be wearing?

Ball attire is “Festive/Formal,” and is not period-specific. The dances span the years 1651 to present day, and the attire in the hall will likely do the same. Guests will be dressed in everything from Medieval to Regency, Victorian to Jazz Age, and many (possibly even most) will be in modern formals. The degree of elaborateness of the clothing will also vary considerably, some guests will have very ornate costumes, others will be dressed very simply. Most will be dressed elegant/formal, some will be in fanciful costumes. Wear whichever you most enjoy dancing in. Just to give you an idea, take a look at photos from our previous balls on the CCECD website.

In consideration of people dancing close to you, please do not wear strong perfume or cologne. There are large dressing rooms at the hall for those who wish to change into ball attire after arriving.

Where can I find an outfit?

Modern formal wear as well as festive attire can usually be found inexpensively in second-hand and vintage clothing stores. Discount clothing outlets such as Ross or Loemann’ are also good sources. Sometimes even major department stores can have great sales on formals.

For period attire, an ability to sew comes in handy. There are readily available Simplicity patterns for costumes of many eras, and a search on Google using keywords like “vintage” “sewing” “patterns” will bring up many resources. Second-hand and costume rental stores are another option.

One of the best ways to find an outfit is to ask your fellow dancers where they bought, borrowed, or found patterns for their ball attire.

What kind of shoes should I wear?

Be kind to your feet. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to move around in. Low-heeled, soft-soled shoes are recommended. Make sure you’ve worn the shoes dancing before, so you don’t have aching, pinched, or blistered feet the night of the ball.

How do I find a partner at the ball?

Anyone can ask anyone to dance — male or female, veteran ball-goer or first-time attendee. If you have come without a partner, don’t be afraid to ask people to dance. If you have come with an escort, we encourage you to meet and dance with other people as well as the person you came with. That’s part of the fun of the community.

A bit of advice: dancers join the set at the bottom of the line as it forms. Therefore, if you are looking for a partner, the best place to find one is usually at the bottom of the hall, where other single dancers will be on the lookout for partners. If you stay seated, chances are that other dancers will assume you are choosing to sit out, and therefore might not ask you to dance.

What happens if I can’t find partners?

Balls are large, exciting, and somewhat chaotic events. Dancers from all over the region (and sometimes the country) will attend. Friends who only see each other once a year will be renewing acquaintances, and sometimes new dancers can feel lost in the shuffle. Dancers who find it hard to get partners are encouraged to ask any of the ball hosts, callers, or local dance leaders for help finding partners. Don’t worry that dancers are willfully ignoring you; it is simply that there is so much going on that wallflowers are not as noticeable as they are in a smaller crowd.

Will there be a dance card?

No, we do not use dance cards. We encourage dancers not to book ahead, opening up more opportunities for dancing with new friends.

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Dance Mistress — Joanna Reiner

Joanna Reiner has taught English dance for over two decades.  In
addition to being one of the leaders of the Philadelphia-based
Germantown Country Dancers, her calling has taken her from Amherst to
Ann Arbor, from NEFFA to Hey Days, from St. Croix to Vancouver, and
other points abroad, including many sessions at Pinewoods Camp.
Joanna loves teaching workshops for ECD callers, and workshops that
explore ECD technique, new dances, and how people learn and remember
dance choreography.  While known for her clear calling and
instruction, Joanna is also an avid dance gypsy, and in her spare
time, works to support her dance habit.

Musicians — Shira Kammen (violin), Jim Oakden (various), and Jeffrey Spero (keyboard)

Shira Kammen and Jim Oakden

Multi-instrumentalist Shira Kammen has spent well over half her life exploring early and other intriguing styles of music. A member for many years of countless early music ensembles, she also is the founder of Class V Music, a group dedicated to providing music on river rafting trips. Shira performs now with several groups, among them English Country/Contra dance bands including Roguery and The Whoots, and collaborates with performers such as storyteller/harpist Patrick Ball, poets Jane Hirshfield and Kay Ryan, clown Jeff Raz, and in many theatrical and dance productions, including the California Revels and the Oregon, California and San Francisco Shakespeare Festivals. The strangest place Shira has played is in the elephant pit of the Jerusalem Zoo. 

Jim Oakden went to college on a music scholarship, but ended up in grad school as a marine biologist. However, he continued to avidly pursue music, first via Early Music, and then as a dance musician. He continues to perform with many bands, including Roguery and Persons of Quality, in a host of genres on an absurd array of instruments. He is very dedicated to passing on his knowledge at symposia, workshops, and dance and music camps from the East Coast (Pinewoods, etc) to Fairbanks, Alaska, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain—and many places in between. He runs community bands, camp bands, does individual and small group instruction, and has been an instructor at Lark Camp for many years. Plus, he loves to dance, in many different styles.

Jeffrey Spero

Jeffrey Spero has been playing piano and singing since he was five years old. At a young age he discovered an affinity for popular music and developed his style emulating musicians like James Taylor, Elton John, and Bruce Hornsby. In his 30s, he brought his rhythmic style to American, English and Celtic folk music and can often be found traveling around the country playing dances, concerts and festivals with bands such as Syncopaths and Rhythm Raptors. Jeff has been playing ECD for 25 years, and moves effortlessly between lyrical and rhythmic styles–creating supremely danceable music.

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The Committee

The Playford-to-the-Present Ball is definitely a community affair. A lot of people contribute their time and effort to help bring about the event.

Administrative Chairs:
Sparky Sotcher, Mickey Waring
Dance Booklet:
Mickey Waring, James Hutson,
    Tim Steinmeier
Aileen Poehls
Name Tags:
Pat Green
James Hutson, Renée Camus
Pat Keating
Kaye Evans, Aileen Poehls,
     Melinda Dickenson
Costume Sale:
Elyse Ashton, Robert Rickun
Tim Steinmeier
Co-op Representative:
Barbara Stewart
Barbara Stewart
Larry Tannenbaum

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For Registration Inquiries
Playford-to-the-Present 2019
c/o Aileen Poehls
11001 Lindblade Street
Culver City, CA  90230

For General Inquiries
Sparky Sotcher

Sponsored By
California Dance Co-operative

Produced by
Culver City English Country Dance (an affiliate of the California Dance Co-Operative)

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The Playford-to-the-Present Ball has a fine history of callers and musicians who have conspired to bring that special combination of sound and movement together for delightful and memorable events.

  • 2018: Dance Master – Bruce Hamilton. Music by Sweetwater (Bonnie Insull, Audrey Knuth, Ryan Sandburg).
  • 2017: Dance Master – Graham Christian. Music by Offbeats and guest (Ashley Broder, Ben Schreiber, Jeffrey Spero, plus Bonnie Insull).

  • 2016: Dance Master – Brad Foster. Music by StringFire (James MacQueen, Annie Rodier, Patti Cobb, Erik Ievins).
  • 2015: Dance Master – James Hutson. Music by Flutatious (Miranda Arana, Bonnie Insull, Christa Burch, Jeff Spero).
  • 2014: Dance Mistress – Kalia Kliban. Music by Persons of Quality (Jon Berger, Rebecca King, Jim Oakden).
  • 2013: Dance Leader – Chris Page. Music by Bonfire (Bonnie Insull, Frank Hoppe, Richard Scher).
  • 2012: Dance Master – Ric Goldman. Music by The Syncopaths (Jeff Spero, Ryan McKassen, Ashley Broder, Christa Burch).
  • 2011: Dance Leader – James Hutson. Music by The Funky Fandango String Quartet (Jon Berger, Erik Ievins, Shira Kammen, Michelle Levy).
  • 2010: Dance Leaders – Kris Davey, Chris Page, Tom Wilson. Hostess – Judee Pronovost. Music by The English Roses (Mary Ann Sereth, Walter Sereth, Robert Winokur).
  • 2009: Dance Mistress – Annie Laskey. Music by The English Roses (Mary Ann Sereth, Walter Sereth, Guinevere Sanger, Mike Earls).
  • 2008: Dance Leader – Mary Devlin. Music by Cuckoo’s Nest (Frank Hoppe, Kurt McInnis, Ken Shaw, Jeff Spero).
  • 2007: Dance Masters – James Hutson, Judee Pronovost, Ben Rotenberg. Music by Bonfire (Bonnie Insull, Richard Scher, Jon Berger).
  • 2006: Dance Master – Giovanni De Amici. Music by Interfolk Goes Baroque (Kriss Larson, Bonnie Insull, Mary Ann Sereth, Carter Dewberry).
  • 2005: Dance Master – Gary Shapiro. Music by Interfolk (Kriss Larson, Jim Garner, Mary Ann Sereth, Bob Brooks).

  • 2004: Dance Master – Ben Rotenberg. Music by Festivity (Mary Ann Sereth , Bonnie Insull, Steve Maranto, Carter Dewberry).

  • 2003: Dance Mistress – Annie Laskey. Music by Bob Brooks, Jim Garner, Kriss Larson, Mary Ann Sereth.

  • 2002: Dance Master – Giovanni De Amici. Music by Jeffrey Spero, Linda Kodaira, David James.

  • 2001: Dance Master – James Hutson. Music by Frank Hoppe, Ken Shaw, Jeffrey Spero.
The DancesEvents Schedule
The CommitteeContact
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