BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF MARGOT HITCHCOCK
Margot Hitchcock has been dancing with the Melbourne Colonial Dancers since 1983. The ultimate highlight for Margot and the Melbourne Colonial Dancers was to be invited to perform at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August 1988, representing Australia for their bi-centenary. Margot has performed with the Melbourne Colonial Dancers display team at the 1995, 1996,1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001 National Folk Festival in Canberra.
Margot’s interest in Cajun music and dance came through viewing some Cajun dance instruction videos from Michaul’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Louisiana and London in England, obtained by Geoff Le Blanc of the Cajun Roux band, where she got hooked on the exciting music and dance. Margot and her ex-dance partner Brian Hickey learnt Cajun dancing from these videos.
In 1995 Margot Hitchcock and Brian Hickey were invited by a special commission to run a Cajun dance workshop at the National Folk Festival in Canberra. This was followed by successful Cajun Dance workshops at the 1996, 1998 and 1999 National Folk Festival,Canberra in April over Easter.
Margot taught Cajun dancing at the Fiddlers Convention at Yarra Junction in February 1999 with the band Cajun Roux. Cajun Roux band got a weekly residency at the East Brunswick Club Hotel in Melbourne in May 1999, which ran for three months, where a bit of Cajun culture came to Melbourne with Cajun dancing, food and music. Margot was conducting weekly Cajun Dance Classes at the East Brunswick Club Hotel. This moved to the Cornish Arms Hotel in Sydney Road Brunswick. The most recent classes in Melbourne resumed in December 2001. At present there are no current Cajun dance classes other than several festivals during the year.
Margot was a member of the Melbourne Colonial Dancers where she enjoyed learning new dances, such as Irish and Scottish, English and early Australian dancing such as couples and Quadrille dances. Margot has also learnt Ballroom, New Vogue, Contra dancing, Irish Set dancing, Scottish Country dancing, Welsh dancing, and even some Morris dancing. Since teaching Cajun dancing Margot has broadened her dancing interests and has branched out and learnt Rock and Roll, Jive, Swing, Lindy Hop, Ceroc, West Coast,TexasTwo-Step and, Tex-Mex dancing. Also Latin, and Appalachian clogging to add to the variety of dances.
Margot ran Cajun Dance Workshops at the Harrietville Bluegrass Festival October 1999, 2000, and 2002. Margot taught Cajun dancing at the Maldon Folk Festival November 1999, and the Fiddlers Convention at Yarra Junction in February 2000, 2001 and 2002. Margot also presented a Cajun Dance Workshop at the World Music Festival for the Little Yarra Steiner School in April 2000.
During Easter 2000, Margot Hitchcock and Brett Wood, presented a Cajun Dance Workshop at the National Folk Festival in Canberra which was attended by over 150 people. Margot and the Cajun Roux band ran the National Festival Dance on the Saturday night.
Following on from Canberra, Margot was requested to teach Cajun dancing in Albury N.S.W. In October 2000 Margot taught Cajun Dancing with Ray Simpson at the Holbrook Dance Weekend in New South Wales, where a variety of American, Australian Colonial, German, Irish and Scottish dancing were taught.
Following Margot’s trip to American 2001 and the Cajun/Creole festival in West Virginia where she learnt to Zydeco dance, Margot has also begun to teach Zydeco dancing.
Margot was invited to Canberra June 2002 to teach Cajun and Zydeco dancing at the Ausgrass festival with the Canberra Cajun and Zydeco band Allezgator.
Margot was invited back to Louisiana in 2003 where she joined up with Glyn, a Cajun dance teacher in the U.K.and a group of other English Cajun dance enthusiasts for Festivals Acadiens and danced every night for two weeks. She also met and danced with Greg who lived in Louisiana and invited her back the following year.
In 2004 Margot went back to Louisiana at Greg’s invitation for Mardi Gras, and spent a month with Greg and others having a fantastic time for the Mardi Gras parades and dances around Lafayette.
In 2004 Margot was back at the National Folk Festival Easter teaching Cajun dancing with Ray Simpson and Allan Ralls from Los Angeles in the USA. The music was provided by Andy Baylor’s Cajun Combo.
Margot taught Cajun dancing at the Harrietville Bluegrass and Traditional Country Music Convention in November 2004, and taught at Beechworth at the Kelly Country Pick in August 2205, and Harrietville again in November 2005.
In 2005 Margot also taught Cajun dancing with Ray Simpson, where Ray Abshire from Louisiana and Melbourne Cajun Musicians playing at the National Folk Festival in Canberra Easter.
In 2006 Margot taught Zydeco dancing with Mark Stoltz from Michigan USA at their Zydeco Dance Workshop at the National Folk Festival,Canberra,Australia, with the Canberra band Alleez-Gator.
In 2008 Margot taught Cajun dancing with Ray Simpson at the National Folk Festival, Canberra, Australia, and they ran a Cajun dance at the Mallee with the Canberra band Alleez-Gator. This was to be Margot’s last time she taught Cajun dancing at the National Folk Festival, in Canberra.
In 2009 on Friday 13th March Margot had a debilitating stroke while Cajun dancing at the Brunswick Music Festival to a Cajun band called the ‘Red Stick Ramblers’ who were over in Australia from Baton Rouge in Louisiana. Margot collapsed on the dance floor in front of the Cajun band while demonstrating Cajun dancing with her Canberra friend Julie and was left paralysed down her left side. She was rushed to the Austin hospital by ambulance where she was in Acute Care for 4 days until she was stabilised and a C.A.T. Scan revealed a right side Basal Ganglia hemorrhage. Margot was then transferred to the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre in Kew where she underwent intensive rehabilitation and physiotherapy learning to walk again. Margot was in a wheel chair for 2 months but with her determination was soon walking and even managed a few Cajun two-steps before she was allowed home to manage on her own, 10 weeks later.
Five months since Margot’s stroke she was back to her goal of teaching Cajun dancing again in August 2009 and playing in a band at Beechworth at the ‘Kelly Country Pick’, at the Old Priory in Beechworth. Since then Margot has taught Cajun dancing every year at Beechworth, Harrietville and the Fiddlers Convention at Blackwood.
Margot’s experience had inspired her to present a Stroke benefit concert in September 2010 and 2011 at her favourite Lomond Hotel in Brunswick featuring local folk and roots artists with the aim to increase public awareness of stroke, its causes and prevention, and to raise funds for the Stroke Association of Victoria, for ‘Stroke Awareness Week’. She was very lucky to have many musician friends play for the benefit and they all did it at no charge, and the money raised went to a good cause.
Unfortunately now in 2012 Margot finds that teaching Cajun dancing is getting a bit too hard with her balance and nerve pain all down her left side, so she has had to slow down and live life in the slow lane.
Margot’s dedication as an ‘Honorary Cajun’ comes from the belief that music is for dancing and the desire to pass this on, so that others can share its ‘Joie de Vivre’ ( Joy of Life) with the world, in this exciting experience…
“Dance with the music in your heart and the steps will bring you joy…..”
“Laissez le bon temps rouler …. Let the good times roll..”
Margot playing her Cajun triangle with the Luau Cowboys at her Stroke Benefit at the Lomond Hotel five months after her stroke in 2009.