Trip to the South of France
In June 2017 I was incredibly lucky to be invited to spend a week with the wonderful Catherine Casse. As I stepped off the plane in Nice, despite the late hour of my very delayed flight, the warmth of the South of France hit me, both in its temperature shift from the less than balmy south-west Scotland and also in the warm welcome I received immediately from Helene Bernard, who had waited to collect me long after my flight had been due and into the wee small hours of the following day when I actually arrived in the South of France. She swept me away towards Catherine who had been teaching all day and was awaiting my arrival at her lovely home, which was to be my base for the week. We shared a whiskey or two and a blether (a chat) before finally hitting the hay.
I cannot thank Catherine enough for the amazing welcome she gave me and for all the love and friendship she shared with me that week in June and also, the great welcome I received from her students too - fantastic!
I very much enjoyed examining Catherine's students who were all well prepared and a delight to watch dance. Congratulations to all; it was a pleasure to be there and to see all the hard work and enthusiasm in their performances.
As well as work, there was plenty of chance to relax and take in the scenery and life of this part of France. Catherine took time out of her busy schedule as a dedicated MMM teacher and creative individual to show me the coast around where she lives in Grasse. I have a lovely memory of sitting on rocks with the red of the coastal mountains behind and the sun shimmering on the Mediterranean sea beneath and the deep azure blue of the sky above. I could see exactly why JD Fergusson and Margaret Morris had returned time and time again to take in the light and the life of the South of France. Each colour I saw was really brilliant in its depth; quite exhilarating for the senses!
During my trip, I was amazingly able to quite literally walk in the footsteps of Margaret Morris as thanks to the kind effort and organisation of Helen Kirk (mother of Iona Bernard) I was given a tour of the famous Eden Roc Hotel at Cap d'Antibes, where back in 1923, Margaret Morris and her dancers had opened the summer season for the famous guests.
Helen Kirk, who is the teacher of ALBA, an English Language Association based in Grasse, and her president Francoise and myself were shown around the Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc by Geraldine Maiale, the Regional Communications Co-ordinator.
The tour began with an exploration of the inside of the original hotel, which although it has been updated since Margaret Morris was there, retains the classical Art Deco feel of its heyday, which guests still prefer today. This included a look inside one of the hotel's gorgeous suites with a level of luxury worthy of the Queen! The view from its balcony was a vista down towards the gardens and beyond to the Med.
I had to keep pinching myself as we were shown outside and into the gardens with their amazing pine trees which feature in many of the photographs taken by Fred Daniels in his book on Margaret Morris and also in many of the paintings which JD Fergusson created while living and working in Cap d'Antibes. The tour also enabled me to glimpse the actual Eden Roc where Margaret and her students had enjoyed diving into the sea below as part of the relaxation and outdoor living which were hallmarks of her dance philosophy. That evening I gave a dance lecture on theme 'Margaret Morris and Nature' to members of ALBA; many thanks to Mark and Rhona for their hospitality.
The following day I was examining more students, all of whom were a delight to experience dancing. That evening Catherine and I were invited to be with Helene Bernard and Helene Barbiero to enjoy an alfresco meal with their respective families.
All too soon my trip to the South of France was coming to an end, but not before I was able to make some more dance memories with Catherine and her students at the day workshop I gave.
What an amazing dance adventure highlighting again the international dance dialogue which is all pervading in MMM. My heartfelt thanks to Catherine Casse for this truly special opportunity!
by Sara Lockwood
Photos: Grasse Workshop June 2017 Photo by Carlo Barbiero (Helene’s husband) Francoise, Helen & Sara at Hotel du Cap-Eden Roc (June 2017)