Jane Austen Ball Weekend

Our next Jane Austen Ball Weekend will be held on May 5 & 6, 2018, featuring Judi Rivkin as Dance Mistress and music by Elegant Echoes (Liz Donaldson, Becky Ross and Colleen Reed) from the Washington DC area.  Here are details about the 2017 weekend to give you an idea of what this event is like.

Saturday and Sunday, May 6 & 7, 2017.

Our eleventh annual English Country dance weekend in Rochester, NY, including a Regency period Ball, an experienced dance, practice sessions, and good food! We have a printable flyer with registration form.

Dancing Master

Tom Amessé

Music by

Rebecca McCallum

Eileen (Nicholson) Kalfass

Jane Knoeck

Co-sponsored by Country Dancers of Rochester and the Central and Western New York Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America.

Schedule of Ball and pre-Ball events

April 2, 9, 23 & 30: Ball prep sessions, 3:30—5:30 pm, at our regular English dance location. $5 per class. Newcomers to English dancing should be sure to attend the first two classes to learn the basics. Potluck dinner to follow; consider staying and attending our regular beginner friendly dances in the evening.

Saturday, May 6 (at The First Baptist Church of Rochester, our regular English dance location):

3:00—5:30 PM: Ball practice for all (led by our dancing master), followed by a potluck dinner (all welcome; food contributions encouraged but not necessary).

6:30 – 9:30 PM: Experienced English dance. An evening of challenging but rewarding dances and old favorites, not limited to the Regency period. Solid familiarity with English country dancing assumed — basic figures will not be taught and walk-throughs will be minimal.

Sunday, May 7, at the Ball venue, one of Rochester’s most elegant country clubs (location will be sent to registrants)

8:30 – 9:30 AM: optional continental breakfast.  Meet and socialize with other attendees before the dancing starts!

10:00 AM—noon: Ball dance review, focusing on the more challenging dances, followed by an elegant buffet lunch, and time for dressing (changing rooms available).

2:00—5:30 PM: the Ball, at the same location, with sumptuous refreshments mid-way.

6:00 PM: an informal dinner at a local restaurant for as many as will. You can sign up at the registration table.

Jane Austen Ball Dance Program

Mock Hobby Horse Emperor of the Moon
Orange Nan Weekend in Wilton
Jenny Pluck Pears Grimstock
Cockleshells Bar a Bar
The Maid Peeped Out at the Window Room for Ramblers
The Siege of Limerick A Health to all Honest Men
Neat, Mr. John Mr. Isaac’s Maggot
Draper’s Gardens Never Love Thee More

Directions for the dances (in PDF format) can be found here, and will also be in the program booklets given to Ball attendees at the Ball. Links in the above table are to videos of the dances, which will give you a visual idea of how the dances go. All dances will be taught and prompted during the Ball.

DVDs of previous balls are available by mail order, click here for details.

Further Details


You can register on-line here using PayPal, or can print the registration form on page 3 of our flyer and mail it in with a check, or submit registration form & payment at our local English dance.  There are student discounts, and you can choose to dance or just observe.  Early registration is advised, as this event often fills up. Registration closes on May 1.

UPDATE: as of May 3, we have had a few cancellations and now have room for a couple more dancers. Contact the registrar if you’re interested.   If a spot opens up, we will contact you to see if you want it.  Unused wait list payments will be fully refunded.

If you’d like to attend, but the admission price is prohibitive for you, please get in touch with the registrar. We may be able to work something out.

Please address all registration-related communications to BallRegistrar@CDRochester.org.


Dancers must already be familiar with English Country Dancing. We strongly encourage dancers to take advantage of our Ball prep sessions and to study the Ball instructions & videos online, as teaching time during the Ball is limited. Dancers will give themselves—and their partners—the greatest pleasure if they are thoroughly familiar with the afternoon’s program before the Ball.


Regency period attire is encouraged, but anything formal or dressy is fine. Consider viewing Lisa Brown’s Guides to Dressing for a Regency Ball for women and men. Lisa also rents costumes; for an appointment contact Regency Rentals.

Raffle & Auction

A raffle and a silent auction will be held during the Ball, as in previous years, with proceeds going to support the Ball. Contributions to this important fund-raiser may be brought directly to the Ball or to any of the local English dances. Items related to Jane Austen, England or the Regency period are especially welcome.

Hospitality & Housing

We can accommodate a limited number of out of town visitors in the homes of local dancers. To request local hospitality, e-mail BallHousing@CDRochester.org.  A list of area hotels is available here.


For general questions, e-mail BallRegistrar@CDRochester.org or phone 585-721-5825.

Our Performers

This will be Tom Amessé’s fourth appearance as our dancing master. Before Tom discovered English Country Dance, he pursued several interests which included both American History, and acting — if he seems a natural on stage, some of the credit goes to his having acted in local community theater! He has been calling English Country dances for over a decade, having studied with Scott Higgs, Beverly Francis, Paul Ross, Bruce Hamilton and Gene Murrow.

His clarity and easy-going style have helped him become a favorite at English country dance events in the New York/New Jersey area and all over the US. With regular calling engagements in North Jersey and Staten Island (his home), he has also emceed New Haven’s Elm City Assembly, the Binghamton Ball, several New York Playford Balls (with Gene Murrow), and the Twelfth Night Assembly in Staten Island.

RebeccaRebecca McCallum grew up playing classical violin in youth orchestras and string quartets, but in college, she fell in love with contra dancing, and soon abandoned classical music for the fiddle.  Nothing gives Rebecca greater musical joy than creating lift, energy and drive for a roomful of dancers. A member of The Groovemongers since 1997, Rebecca plays for contra and English dancers across the US and overseas. She was also  a regular on stage at CDR dances before moving to Connecticut in 2008.  Since then she has expanded her playing for Scottish and English country dancing, and is even experimenting with Bluegrass, early country, and string band fiddling and singing.

Eileen (Nicholson) Kalfass began studying violin at age 4 as a classical Suzuki violin student. Her appreciation of fiddle music followed soon thereafter as a result of her family’s interest in folk arts. Eileen has been playing for contra and English country dances since 2005. Her playing combines an unforgettably smooth and pleasing tone with the solid rhythm dancers appreciate. Based in Central New York, she plays regularly with the bands New Brew, Continental Drift, and SeaGlass. She is especially known for her delightful harmony in duos.

Jane Knoeck’s musical beginnings were in classical piano and voice studies. She entered the instrumental folk music world upon discovering the hammered dulcimer. Contra dance bands followed and she’s been playing for dances ever since on piano and accordion, weaving a variety of musical influences into her style and becoming accomplished at playing for both English and Scottish country dance. Much in demand for her ability to provide the drive and phrasing so important to dance music, she often plays with The Groovemongers, New Brew, and Frivolity.