Celia Ramsay

Vocalist, Songwriter, Dance Caller, Teacher

Of Contra Dance and Ceilidh . . .

Kathy & Joe Bly, (me) and Holly Sternberg: CíanaMY DANCE SEASON IS REVVING UP!

I'm slated to call seven dances between now and the end of the year, some private, some public. In fact, I just called a Scottish ceilidh dance for a wedding celebration in Incline Village with a fabulous band called Cíana. "Calling a dance" simply means that I'm the dance teacher: I first teach the dance and then call out verbal prompts when the dance is underway. What's the difference between a contra dance, a family dance, or a ceilidh? Here's a bit of clarification:

Contra Dance is New England style-folk dance. It's mostly done in longways sets (think "Virginia Reel" and you'll get the right mental picture.) These dances are accessible to newcomers and at the same time, very satisfying for experienced dancers. If you're new to Contras, be sure to get to the dance in time for the beginners' lesson. It's usually 15 - 30 minutes before the official dance begins, and it's a great way to get dancing immediately.

Family Dances are just that - a program of dances that has been organized to accommodate dancers of all ages. These are often part of a private party or a school event or fundraiser and are all about variety and accessibility - anyone can dance them, including kids as young as six years old.

Scottish Ceilidh (say, "kay-lee" - it means party!) dance is for parties, also, but includes a bit more partner dancing. These are great when the number of dancers is unknown, hard to organize, or changeable--like at a wedding. Some folks just get too tired to dance, but with a dance like The Gay Gordons, six people can still have fun. No experience is necessary for a ceilidh. And just for the record, the dances in an Irish ceílí are a bit different, though the overall concept - PARTY/FUN - is the same. 

In all of these, there can be longways sets or circle dances, sometimes "mixers", where your partner changes frequently (a sort of ancient mating ritual!) By the way, this is a lot of fun, and ­ you can hire me! I'll even find the band! 

WHAT A LARK! - Lark Camp was fabulous. I don't know how it's possible, but I swear this was the best year of music camp yet, and if you don't believe me, go the Lark Camp Facebook group page and check out all the photos. You may remember I was slated to teach a four-day beginning voice class and that went very well. I learned a lot about what my students needed, and I was pleased at the amount of progress we made in a few short days. We covered why we sing and how to view ourselves as singers (we're storytellers!), and how to sing harmony . . . 


In fact, I was so encouraged by how the class went, I'm officially offering private and small group voice lessons at my home in North Berkeley, and am thinking of possibly organizing harmony singing workshops for no more than eight people of four or five sessions. Are you interested? Send me an email and let me know.


Just in case you read this in the nick of time, Ken Risling and I will be performing a duo-concert - at my house in North Berkeley, Saturday, August 22 at 8:00pm. There is plenty of room, and I sincerely hope if you can make it, you'll email me that you are coming: celiaramsay@gmail.com, or better yet, CALL! 707-337-0498. I'll provide address/directions when you do!

Sunday, September 6:

Tony Becker, music booster extraordinaire, hosts a song/instrument jam session both days of the 150th Pleasanton Scottish Games. I'll be doing a bit of performing there on Sunday only, but you can come Saturday and enjoy the same fare with Philip Batchelder. You'll find me in the AmeriCeltic booth in the Clan area near the Palm Pavilion ­ I think not far from the Red Lion Pub! Hope to see you there around 11:00am!

Saturday & Sunday, October 3 & 4: I'll be part of the song circle both days at the KVMR Celtic Festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Look for us on the schedule ­ we'll be at the Gazebo near Gate 5.