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Requiem – dancing the journey of grief

Requiem – dancing the journey of grief

Crows Feet Dance Collective, Wellington’s unique all-women contemporary dance group for mature performers, has created a work that reaches out to audience members who have experienced profound loss in their lives.

Director and choreographer of the group, Jan Bolwell, created Requiem in memory of her younger sister who died of cancer last year at the age of 52.

The emotional power of this dance quickly became obvious during their first season in September 2007, and they are bringing Requiem back for the Wellington Fringe Festival in February 2008.

Bolwell is herself a cancer survivor. It was the experience of breast cancer and a double mastectomy that got her back on the stage once more at the age of 50 in 1999.

"I knew the only way I could recover some sense of my physical self was to dance again. I created a solo work Off my Chest, and it was seeing this dance that inspired leading NZ filmmaker Gaylene Preston to make her marvellous documentary on breast cancer Titless Wonders," said Bolwell.

Women who saw the documentary approached Bolwell and asked her to teach them to dance. Crows Feet Dance Collective was born, and now numbers 18 dancers between the ages of 35 to 67 years old. Each year this community dance collective stages a concert featuring a major new work by their director.

“They are the most wonderful bunch of women, and I love creating dances on them. Some are experienced dancers, but many have no training at all. It doesn’t matter. They bring so many personal qualities to the work, and the challenge for me as the choreographer is to meld them into a cohesive ensemble."
Requiem is not a gloomy work. Some parts are intensely touching, others confrontational. But as a whole audiences find it inspiring, dynamic and healing. "Finally tonight I wept for my father", said one audience member; “I was swept away from the very first bars, thinking about my friend who died last summer,” said another.

Karl Jenkins’ stunning east-west music sets the tone, exploring the cycle of life and death.

"[Crows Feet is] an intrepid band of women who brought dignity and integrity to some very beautiful sequences of group movement. Clearly the work’s themes of courage and companionship in grief and loss were heartfelt by all, and a quiet heroism surrounded the work. […] Costumes by Jane Ferguson, in persimmon, pale gold, rich red and burning bronze silk, were an affirmation."
Dominion Post dance reviewer Jennifer Shennan
Proceeds from the opening night of Requiem at the New Zealand Fringe Festival will be donated to the Wellington Cancer Society.

February 29 (8pm), March 1 (2pm, 6pm), March 2 (4pm)
Wellington Performing Arts Centre, 36 Vivian St, Wellington
$18 / Conc. $15 / Fringe Addict $12
Bookings: DANZ or 04 801 9885
pick up booked tickets from the venue 20 min before the show, door sales subject to availability
For further information go to


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