Cécile Laye is Chestnut’s teaching and artistic director. She studied old dance forms in England with the Dolmetsch Historical Dance Society, Nonsuch History and Dance, and the English folk Dance and Song Society, working in England with Anne Daye, Anne Cottis, Peggy Dixon, Ethyl Anderson, Marjorie Fennessy, Tom Cook, and Alan Davies, and in France with Francine Lancelot, Andréa Francalancci, and Barbara Sparti. In the late 1980s she founded Amarillis, a dance company focused on 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, continuing with artistic activities (creating dance and theatre shows, including Balls), teaching (preparing dancers for Balls through a rich program of workshops and classes) and publication ones (CDs, dance descriptions, articles on Playford and modern dances). Cécile’s aim is to understand the needs of a given group and of each person in the group, to build up a class so that each person gradually understands the dance and becomes aware of his/her body and its expressive capacities, be it during a lesson, a ball, or on stage.
**Cécile Laye will be on faculty for Week 2 of the 2023 Amherst Early Music Festival.