Wellington Performing Arts Centre, Wellington

27/02/2009 - 01/03/2009

NZ Fringe Festival 2009

Production Details


The fabulous Crows are celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2009. 

Ten years ago director Jan Bolwell, at the age of 48, was recovering from two bouts of breast cancer. She decided to start dancing again to aid her recovery. A group of women about her age saw Gaylene Preston’s film about breast cancer ‘Titless Wonders’ in which Jan dances her work ‘Off My Chest’.

They approached her and said, ‘we want to dance like that. Will you teach us?’ Crows Feet Dance Collective was born.

An original group of four has grown to eighteen, and now boasts six grandmothers, with the eldest being 69. Bolwell has now choreographed 15 dance works for the Crows, and each year they stage a concert in Wellington. 

This year they are staging two new works as part of the New Zealand Fringe Festival from February 27th till March 1st.

CHOROS, is a wild, sensuous Bacchic revel danced to View From Olympus by acclaimed New Zealand composer, John Psathas.

Bolwell says of this new work:
“I have had a love affair with ancient Greek theatre since my student days. While lecturing at Dunedin College of Education in the 1980s, I co-directed and choreographed a memorable production of Euripides’ The Bacchae. It is exciting to re-visit this material with Crows Feet Dance Collective, and especially to choreograph to the fabulous score by John Psathas.
    The cult of Dionysus originated in Asia and these bacchants will have an exotic Persian flavour with designer Jane Ferguson emphasizing eastern colours and motifs. We have an expert belly dancer in the group and we are making use of her skills to learn this quintessentially eastern dance form. 

LEAVING HOME,the other new work, is Bolwell’s tribute to her great, great, great grandmother Jane Broadfoot who left Scotland as a young newly married woman in 1843.
“I find myself returning to my Celtic roots which become more important as I grow older. Takitoru (1995) was a first attempt to look at my heritage, in that instance from a bicultural perspective. It is fascinating to re-visit this theme in LEAVING HOME with Crows Feet, and to choreograph to Kilt, the wonderfully evocative music of renowned Wellington composer, David Downes.    

Wellington Performing Arts Centre, 36 Vivian Street
Full $20, Concession $15, Fringe Addict $13
27 February  8pm
28 February  2pm  &  6pm
1 March  4pm  

Bookings: Downstage Theatre, cnr Courtenay Pl & Cambridge Tce.
Ph: 04 801 6946 or online at    

Leaving Home
Choreography: Jan Bolwell
Music: Kilt by David Downes
Costumes: Mary Cornwell
Meg Bailey, Jan Bolwell, Elizabeth Isaacs, Tania Kopytko, Sue Leask, Lee Dunn, Jo Thorpe.    

Guest Artists: Mudra Dance Company
Kriti:     "Kanchadalayatakshi..."
Ragam:  Manohari
Talam:  Adi
Language:  Sanskrit
Music Composition:  Muttuswami Dikshitar
Choreography:  Vivek Kinra
Friday 27th 8pm Duet performed by Darshika Patel & Ramya Bhagavathula
 Saturday 28th 2pm Solo performed by Ashleen Deepika Singh
 Saturday 28th 8pm Solo performed by Anuksha Rai Narayan
 Sunday 1st 4pm Solo performed by Vaishally Gandhi

Choreography: Jan Bolwell
Music: John Psathas
Costumes: Jane Ferguson
Props: Jennifer Holdaway
Part 1: The Furies
Part 2: Athena
Part 3: The Maenads
Meg Bailey, Jan Bolwell, Jill Clarke, Jenny Cossey, Lee Dunn,  Magrita Freie, Denise Hitchcock, Jennifer Holdaway, Elizabeth Isaacs, Tania Kopytko, Sally Latham, Sue Leask, Rachel McAlpine, Carolyn McKeefry, Daphne Pilaar, Gay Puketapu-Andrews, Jo Thorpe, Kirsty Wardlaw 

Dance ,

Ancestral cultures inspire rich narrative choreographies

Review by Jenny Stevenson 28th Feb 2009

From its humble beginnings ten years ago, Crows Feet Dance Collective has grown into a company of twenty under Artistic Director, Jan Bolwell, who has been its guiding light from the start.  In the Collective’s latest show Choros, Bolwell has created two rich narrative choreographies for the dancers that play to their strengths as mature performers.

Leaving Home, created to the David Downes composition Kilt, pays homage to the formidable strength of the early women settlers who left their former lives for good when they ventured to these shores.  Based loosely on the life of Bolwell’s great, great, great grandmother, the work charts the journey of seven women through unbearable grief at the loss of a child, to hard labour in breaking the land and the joyful revelries that accompany a job well done.  In the final section the women discover freedom that affords solace and undergo a symbolic discarding of their former set ways.

The dancers, dressed in beautiful costumes of several layers created by Mary Cornwall, are a strong ensemble: in tune with each other but secure in their individual characterisations.

The main work of the evening, Choros, to music by John Psathas, is a highly imaginative group work for eighteen dancers with a strong solo by Bolwell as the goddess, Athena: she of the gleaming eyes.  Part One creates the turmoil of the wild Furies, described by Martha Graham as "the daughters of the night".  Here the dancers move swiftly in formal groupings in combat with each other and never still.

Part two moves to Ancient Rome where a helmeted Bolwell as the majestic Athena strikes the earth with her stave and assumes statuesque poses to reflect her glory.  In the final section, the full company performs a dance of ecstasy as the Maenads of Ancient Greece using the shimmying movements of the early Middle Eastern dance forms.  Again Bolwell uses group formations, this time with an artist’s eye, to create friezes in conjunction with Lighting Designer Katrina Chandra.  The dancers are resplendent in gorgeous purple and green costumes designed by Jennifer Holdaway.

Guest Artists Darshika Patel and Ramya Bhagavathula from Mudra Dance Company complete the evening’s theme of ancestral cultures by performing Kanchadalayatakshi, which celebrates the Hindu Goddess Kamakshi.  Dressed in exquisite costumes and jewellery the dancers perform Choreographer, Vivek Kinra’s intricate work with poise and precision.


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