One of the many workshops that feature in bluegrass festivals across Australia is the Cajun dance workshop. These have been a regular festival feature, certainly in the southern half of the country including the National Folk Festival, for some time.
After seeing the Beechworth Festival program this year I thought I’d delve into the person behind Cajun dance – Margot Hitchcock.
Margot started dancing with the Melbourne Colonial Dancers in 1983 and took an interest in Cajun music in 1994 after meeting Geoff LeBlanc who played at a Melbourne folk club. Geoff secured a video on Cajun dance for Margot and she started learning the dance style.
A year later, in 1995, after learning the Jitterbug, Two-step and the Cajun Waltz, Margot was ready to teach. Her first gig was the Cajun dance workshop at the National Folk Festival that Easter. Margot continues to conduct regular Cajun dance workshops and has been a regular feature at the National Folk Festival, at the Harrietville Bluegrass and Traditional Country Music Convention – since 1999, and the Beechworth Kelly Country Pick – since 2003.
Since teaching Cajun dance, Margot has broadened her dancing interests and has branched out to learn Rock and Roll, Jive, Swing, Lindy Hop, Ceroc, West Coast, Texas Two-Step, Tex-Mex, Latin dancing, Zydeco. She has also learned Appalachian clogging at a Cajun Creole festival in West Virginia in 2001.
On Friday 13th March, during the 2009 Brunswick Music Festival, Margot suffered a stroke on her left side while Cajun dancing at the Brunswick Town Hall to the music of the Red Stick Ramblers from Louisiana. Margot was rushed by ambulance to the Austin hospital where she spent 4 days in intensive care. She was later transferred to the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre in Kew, where during the next 10 weeks she was learned to walk again.
Driven by her desire to dance, Margot was back dancing and performing in just 5 months.
My belief is that Cajun music is for dancing and through this art form, I hope to continue to share in the Joie de Vivre – Joy of Life – Margot Hitchcock.
Margot has not let her stroke stop her promoting Cajun music in Melbourne or her love for teaching Cajun dancing. In her role as Cajun Queen and Honorary Cajun, Margot is dedicated to sharing this unique music and dance from Louisiana with her fellow Australians.
Visit Margot’s Cajun Website