Author Archives: earlycolonial

Tips for helpful dancers

As experienced dancers we all want to encourage and help others to join the dance, be successful, and enjoy themselves.  Sometimes this is not as straightforward as it might seem.  Community dances attract a wide range of people with different levels of ability and experience.

Here are some key tips:

  • Listen to the caller and encourage others to do likewise
  • Use body language to direct rather than words, pointing or pushing
  • Watch the other dancers, especially your partner
  • It’s a social activity – invite newbies to dance
  • Dances don’t always go exactly as planned – relax, dance well, and be cheerful.


Want to read more?

Dancing with Newbies

When You’re Not the Caller

Myths about beginner contra dancers

Oops! Sorry! Thoughts on mistakes in social dances

Awareness and consideration

Dancing with a partner

Enjoy dancing better

Dance tips and terms

Introduction to Peter Ellis AO

Peter Nicolaus Ellis of Bendigo (b 1946, d 2015) was an avid collector and instructor of traditional and old time social dances and the relevant music in Australia since late 1970s. He presented numerous workshops in both areas in several states and at many folk festivals including the National, Maldon, and Port Fairy. Sadly, Peter passed away early in 2015.

Peter Ellis

Also a historian on the early social dance and music, he regularly provided articles and photographic material for Trad & Now.

He was a member of the Wedderburn Oldtimers Orchestra (since 1979, and led his own Emu Creek Bush Band since 1983, was a founding member of the Bush Dance & Music Club of Bendigo and through the auspices of both, who work hand in glove together, produced numerous recordings of music for quadrilles, couple dances and the various country dances, including those of the ‘bush dance revival’.

Much of his knowledge came from a close acquaintance with the late Harry McQueen of Castlemaine.

Publications include the Collector’s Choice series in 3 Volumes, Music Makes Me Smile (music and dances of the Nariel Valley), The Waltz, the Polka and all kinds of Dance Music and The Merry Country Dance. He also made extensive collections for the National Library of Australia and his section on dance is said to be the most extensive.