Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The French Heritage Festival--An Evening of Dance at the Felix Valle

A couple of weekends ago, on June 8, 2019, Ste. Genevieve celebrated its annual French Heritage Festival, highlighting over 300 years of French culture in North America from Quebec, Canada to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a cloud-covered day, but that didn't overshadow the excitement all over town. The festivities started off with a blessing for the festival at the Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church, followed by a promenade down Merchant Street, including costumed and non-costumed visitors.
There was music, reenactments, storytelling, French cuisine, and an evening open air dance with Creole music at the Lion's Club Park. And of course, there was plenty of wine and beer. If you missed it, you missed an amazing day. . .But the focus of this post is the 18th and early 19th Century dance that evening at the Felix Valle State Historical Park at Merchant and Second Street by Dance Discovery.
"Dance Discovery is a performance dance troupe based in St. Louis, Missouri, that brings festivity and merriment to celebrations by researching and performing historically faithful social dances from the 1600's to the present, including those of American, English, French and Spanish origins."
 "Originally formed to participate in the celebration of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery expedition, Dance Discovery has also now focused on French and American dances from the Napoleonic era, and on the dances from the American Civil War era, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War."

With a touch of Jane Austin in the air, on Saturday evening, the candlelit home of Felix Valle was open to visitors, while on the side lawn, the Dance Discovery troupe performed examples of a few 18th-19th century dances before inviting the onlookers to try their hand. . .or maybe I should say feet. . .at a dance or two. . .I couldn't get John out of his seat, but I didn't hesitate joining in the fun. . .It's one thing to watch others dance but another when a person attempts it herself. . .But, in the end, I found myself keeping time to the music and following the steps as if I'd done it many times before. . .Besides. . .It was all in fun anyway. .
Music and dancing were an important part of the Colonial French culture. . .Thank goodness it is being preserved for this and future generations.

Thanks to all who had a hand in the evening festivities at the Felix Valle. . .
We had a 'Ball'. . .

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