Playford-to-the-Present Ball

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2021 Playford-to-the-Present (P2P) Ball

Registration is Open!

We hope that we will be able to hold a Playford-to-the-Present Ball on October 9, 2021. Therefore, registration is now open.

Please notice that this year’s event will differ from previous balls.

  • The event will be held a week later than usual, on October 9.
  • Due to the pandemic and the lack of local in-person dancing before the ball, we have decided to create a ball program based on Easy and Intermediate level dances, including some familiar favorites, that do not require much advanced practice. There will be no advanced or complex For Those Who Know dances at this year’s ball.
  • There will be no practices or workshops in advance of the ball, and dance instructions will not be distributed in advance.
  • All dances will be walked-through and prompted at the ball, so while there are no ball practices scheduled, advanced dancers should be able to handle everything on the program.
  • The list of dances will be announced on September 1, 2021. (Jump to the list!)
  • COVID protocols will be followed. Proof of vaccination will be required at the door. Masks will be required inside the hall.

Two Los Angeles-area dance leaders — James Hutson and Renée Camus — will be presenting the program. The music will be provided by Force for Nature, a talented ensemble of musicians based in Southern California: Audrey Knuth on violin, Ashley Hoyer on mandolin, and Jeffrey Spero on keyboard.

As always, this ball is for knowledgeable dancers. It is assumed that all dancers are familiar with basic ECD figures. Figures will not be taught at the ball, but all dances will have a walk-through and will be prompted as necessary. Dancers should be skilled enough to pick up dances with minimal instruction.

Save the Date!

Plan ahead for our 2022 Playford-to-the-Present ball program,
with caller Val Medve and musicians Persons of Quality, on October 8, 2022.

The Playford-to-the-Present ball is hosted by Culver City English Country Dance, an affiliate of the California Dance Co-operative. The ball is geared toward knowledgeable English country dancers; there will be no teaching of figures 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. Pre-registration is required. 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

Due to the pandemic and the lack of local in-person dancing before the ball, we have decided to create a ball program based on Easy and Intermediate level dances, including some familiar favorites, that do not require much advanced practice. There will be no advanced or complex For Those Who Know dances at this year’s ball. All dances will be walked through and prompted at the ball, so while there are no ball practices scheduled, advanced dancers should be able to handle everything on the program.

2021 Playford-to-the-Present Ball dance list
The dances that will be presented at the Ball will be taken from this list. Additional bonus dances may also be presented. This list is in alphabetical order, not program order. The specific version of each dance will be determined by the dance leader and will be presented at the ball.

Barbarini’s Tambourine
The Fandango
Jack’s Health
Key to the Cellar
Love and a Bottle (Fallibroome version)
The Lover’s Knot
Mary K
A New Beginning
Old Wife Behind the Fire
Sapphire Sea
Softly Good Tummas


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

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Events Schedule

Ball Practice/Style Workshop 1Culver City4:00p-7:00pSundayNA
Ball Practice/Style Workshop 2Culver City4:00p-7:00pSundayNA
Ball ReviewPasadena 17:00p-10:00pFridayNA
The Playford BallPasadena 26:30p-10:30pSaturdayOctober 9

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 Leaders

Two Los Angeles-area dance leaders — James Hutson and Renée Camus — are presiding over the program. (Previously announced dance leader Chris Page is no longer available.)

Caller James Hutson

James Hutson

James co-founded the Culver City English Country Dance series (with Annie Laskey) in 2006. He was Dance Master for the first Los Angeles Playford Ball in 2001 and was dance leader for several subsequent Playford-to-the-Present Balls. He has also led workshops in ECD at various festivals and other events, including LAHA’s Jane Austen Evening, the CTMS Summer Solstice Festival, the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest, and the Folk Dance Federation’s Camp Hess Kramer Institute Weekend. In 2004 he led an ECD program for the annual convention of the Jane Austen Society of North America. He was dance leader for the BACDS Fall Ball in 2002, and he was program director as well as staff for the BACDS Spring Fling dance weekend at Monte Toyon in 2010. 

Caller Renée Camus

Renée Camus

Renée started English country dancing at Pinewoods at age 8, and decided then that it would be part of her career. After receiving a masters degree in dance history, she founded and directed a dance company dedicated to preserving historical social dance called Centuries Historical Dance, producing the DVD Dancing through the Centuries: Dawn of a New World. She taught various styles of dance around the Washington, DC area, including tap, Irish step dancing, ballroom, and ECD, and has taught at many dance camps around the country, including Pinewoods, Berea, Terpsichore’s Holiday, Flying Cloud Academy’s Vintage Dance Week, and Newport Vintage Dance Week. She taught classes in ECD Style & Technique over Zoom during the pandemic, and recently began writing her own English country dances, some of which are available on her website.


Force for Nature

Force for Nature, a talented ensemble of musicians based in Southern California: Audrey Knuth on violin, Ashley Hoyer on mandolin, and Jeffrey Spero on keyboard.

Audrey Knuth

You know Audrey Knuth is performing if the room is buzzing at a higher level. Her fiddling, featured in bands including The Free Raisins, The Gaslight Tinkers, Audacious (with Larry Unger), and Wake Up Robin, has electrified dance and concert halls across the US and Europe. Hailing from Honolulu and now living in California, she cut her folk teeth in the Boston area, attending Berklee College of Music and spending years exploring the thriving New England folk scene. She specializes in English dance, New England, Celtic, and Old Time tunes. You might also have taken a workshop with Audrey, as she’s been on staff at various camps including CDSS English week at Pinewoods, Ashokan Northern Week, BACDS American week, and Halsway Manor.

Jeffrey Spero

Jeffrey 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 and Celtic folk and dance music and now travels around the country playing dances, concerts and festivals with bands such as Syncopaths and Rhythm Raptors.

Ashley Hoyer

Ashley Hoyer’s myriad talents and musical accomplishments defy easy description or classification. Fluent on mandolin (both acoustic and electric), violin, and cello, Hoyer crafts melodies, sonic textures and haunting harmonies that distinguish her works easily from the norm. Classically trained in violin as a child, Hoyer discovered the mandolin at age eight, then took up the cello in college. Described as a “mandolin phenomenon” by the San Diego Tribune and highly sought after by a wide range of musicians needing to round out their sound, Hoyer has performed in folk clubs, festivals, bars, dance halls, orchestras, and recording studios.

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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
Talent Liaison:
Pat Keating
Kaye Evans, Melinda Dickenson
Costume Sale:
Elyse Ashton, Robert Rickun
Tim Steinmeier
Co-op Representative:
Renée Camus
Barbara Stewart, Elyse Ashton, Robert Rickun
Larry Tannenbaum, Alex Bradley

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For Registration Inquiries
Playford-to-the-Present Ball 2021
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.

  • 2020: Our Special Virtual Event celebrating 20 years of Playford-to-the-Present – Caller Judee Pronovost. Music by Linda Kodaira (violin) and Bill Marks (guitar); additional music from Jeffrey Spero (piano).

  • 2019: Dance Mistress – Joanna Reiner. Music by Shira Kammen, Jim Oakden, Jeffrey Spero.

  • 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, Jeffrey 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 (Jeffrey 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, Jeffrey 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.

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