Cécile LAYE is CHESTNUT’s artistic director.
She studied old dance forms in England with the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Nonsuch History and Dance and EFDSS (English folk Dance and Song Society). She worked in particular under such famed teachers and researchers as Anne Daye, Anne Cottis, Peggy Dixon, Ethyl Anderson, Marjorie Fennessy, Tom Cook and Alan Davies. In France she studied with Francine Lancelot, Andréa Francalancci and Barbara Sparti.
At the end of the eighties, she founded AMARILLIS, a dance company meaning to bring to the public figure dances of the Stuarts’ time and the English inheritance, as well as some aspects of history and literature, with the collaboration of musicians and singers. AMARILLIS was replaced by CHESTNUT in 1998. CHESTNUT took over its predecessor’s artistic activities (creating dance and theatre shows), its teaching (preparing dancers for Balls through a rich program of workshops and classes) and its publication ones (CDs, dance descriptions, articles on Playford and modern dances).
Over the years, Cécile LAYE has build up a strong experience as a dancing master and ball caller (French Renaissance balls/ English figure dances balls, or a mixture of both). She can pass on her taste for and pleasure in elegant dancing to beginners as well as seasoned dancers.
Besides her activities in the field of dancing, Cécile Laye studied dramatic art and staging, graduating at Cours Florent. She also graduated at Eva Ruchpaul’s Yoga Institute and the Paris school of Gestalt-therapy. She played Shakespeare, Molière and Marivaux in Paris and elsewhere in France and takes part in creating new plays and shows, for children in particular.
She draws on both sides of her extensive training, physical and artistic, to develop her teaching method.
Her constant aim is to understand the needs of a given group and of each person making up the group, to build up a class so that each person gradually understands the dance, becomes aware of his/her body and its expressive capacities, be it during a lesson, a ball, or on stage.