CeilidhKids at the Fringe

Aug 3 2023 | By More

★★★★★   Perfection

Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Venue 170): Thurs 3 – Sun 27 Aug 2023
Review by Torya Hughes

CeilidhKids return to the Counting House with their popular family dances, aimed at providing the youngest audiences with a taster of traditional Scottish dance.

Compere Caroline Brockbank has been running CeilidhKids for around 16 years, after finding a lack of accessible ceilidhs when her own children were young. The company operates in and around Edinburgh throughout the year, even branching out into seated ceilidhs for the elderly and special events for those with dementia. This emphasis on accessibility makes for a very welcoming atmosphere, with no pressure to take part and an emphasis on fun.

CeilidhKids in action. Pic: CeilidhKids

The Counting House Ballroom is a good size for a busy group of dancers, with around 60 children and grown ups in attendance. The suggested age range is 3-7yrs, but there are some young teenagers who are happy to join in, and several babies who seem to enjoy just bouncing along to the music. Although there are some seasoned dancers in attendance, there are also first time participants from as far as China and Philadelphia.

Caroline leads her audience through a series of simple rhythm games to get started, clapping and stamping at first, then patting their bottoms in time to the beat – cue much hilarity from the younger ones! After a warm up, it’s time for the only ceilidh dance using the original steps, a traditional Gay Gordons. As with all of the dances, there are modifications to allow one adult to dance with two children, or to accommodate smaller children who might get tangled up with the original moves.

Giants, Trees and Frogs

There are plenty of other traditional dances included, but in much simpler arrangements to allow everyone to join in. The Swedish Masquerade becomes Giants, Trees and Frogs, with some freestyle jumping at the end, while a Flying Scotsman leaves out some of the more complex moves but retains the basic shape of the dance. The whole thing ends with a variation of the Circassian Circle, thankfully without any of the progression of the original!

Caroline tailors the set perfectly to her young audience, including plenty of water breaks and taking the time to walk every dance through before starting. The music is recorded, but the lack of a live band does not detract from the atmosphere. I took my 5yr old, who said that she liked jumping and spinning the best, and wants to go back again. This is the perfect way to introduce young children to ceilidh.

Running time: 45mins (no interval)
Laughing Horse @The Counting House: The Ballroom, 38 West Nicholson Street, EH8 9DD (Venue 170).
Thurs 3 – Sun 27 August (not 17, 22, 24)
Daily: 10am.
Tickets and details: Book here.
NB: Pay what you can in advance to secure a ticket or turn up and pay a donation at the end.

CeilidhKids links
Twitter: @CeilidhKids
Facebook: @CeilidhKids
Instagram: @counterminers
Website: http://www.ceilidhkids.com


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  1. Thank you so much for coming along and taking the time to write this awesome review1 Very very much appreciated.