Les Belles Vilaines: “Les Belles Vilaines” is a performing group of four dancers enthusiastic about French and European music and dance. Its growing repertoire includes traditional and historical dances from the European Medieval/Renaissance eras as well as dances from the 19th Century.
The Quadrille Club: The Quadrille Club is a group of six couples. We meet weekly to explore French and English dances from the 18th and 19th Century Europe. Our repertoire includes cotillons, contredanses and quadrilles.
Community classes: Every second Sunday of each month, Kate runs a morning dance workshop where people can learn European dances from various time periods and some French traditional dances.
Community events: from time to time we propose community events like the 19th Century picnic, the Jane Austen Ball or the Midwinter high tea.
Kate Grace (Dance leader) : As for many French natives, Kate’s lineage is not a straightforward one. Kate takes her roots from a mother born in Morocco and a father from the mountainous regions of the East of France. She grew up in France with dance behind the scenes, her mother taking a particular interest in Israeli and Greek dance at the time. Maybe because of family interest, maybe out of energy to burn, or just maybe because it was trendy at the time, she was drawn towards the study of traditional dance from Africa.
She flew to New Zealand in 1995 hoping to settle in the Portugal of the Southern Seas, as Dunedin was described to her by kiwi husband David. Facing instead the Antarctic wind and the Dunedin sound, she was torn between the choices of letting go of her passion or taking the bull by the horns: she threw herself into the task of becoming a teacher of African dance. She taught African folk dance for 13 years in a lively and energetic manner supported by the intricate rhythms of David’s live Songbong drummers.
In 2005, David and Kate took their three children for a three-year stay back in France. There, she reconnected with dancers and musicians interested in traditional forms of dance from France and Europe. Back in New Zealand and adapting to her 50 year old body, she now teaches traditional and historical dances from Europe in Dunedin.
Kate is involved in the Songbong business half of the time and spends the other half researching, rehearsing, doing dance and music and making historical clothing. She leads constant friendly battles with her garden and could have been a colourful visual artist.
She hopes the seeds of traditional and historical dancing she is now sowing in Dunedin will grow into a solid part of the local landscape.