The Witch Project
Jan Bolwell founded Crows Feet in 1999 starting with 4 dancers. It has now expanded to over 40 dancers in 4 separate companies in Wellington, Lower Hutt, Kapiti Coast and Palmerston North.
Bolwell says- ‘It began from adversity when at age 48 in 1998, I was twice struck down with breast cancer. As part of my recovery I started dancing again with fellow dance educators. Then film maker Dame Gaylene Preston saw my dance Off My Chest and included it in her film about breast cancer Titless Wonders. On seeing that film, women of my age approached me and said ‘We want to dance like that, will you teach us?’
And so Crows Feet was born.
Crows Feet Dance Collective pioneered the creation of dance opportunities for mature performers in New Zealand. Now there are numerous similar groups scattered up and down the country.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary Crows Feet Dance Collective is presenting The Witch Project – an exploration, through dance, of how & why women have been depicted as witches throughout the ages even today.
A witch transgresses the norms of female power. Punishing witches makes others afraid to follow in the unruly woman’s footsteps. Many of the women accused of witchcraft were so-called “wise women”, older figures, with experience as midwives and herbalists.
The fascination with witches continues today through film, television and books.
Demonising women as witches has a long history that still occurs especially with powerful women. Ex- Australian PM, Tony Abbott, saw fit to stand in front of a poster about Julia Gillard that screamed ‘Ditch the Witch’. Speaker of the American House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has been depicted by Republicans as ‘The Wicked Witch of the West’ and Hillary Clinton was accused of having demonic qualities in the last US presidential election. Theresa May is now subject to similar tactics.
‘The misogyny of all this is obvious. Debating and defeating these leaders politically isn’t enough – as women who show ambition, they are abominations who must be deemed evil and cast out.’ – Madeline Miller
In The Witch Project’ the Crows Feet dancers canvas this long history in a series of dances that are provocative, serious, amusing and ultimately a celebration of female strength.
The Witch Project
Nga Purapura, Otaki
March 10th at 3pm.
Soundings Theatre, Te Papa, Wellington
March 23/24 at 4pm.
Door sales available. (cash only)
Vivek Kinra’s Studio, Level 1,
22 Webb Street, Te Aro
Contact Jan Bolwell
027 2265 755
Danceworks, Studio 3
60 King Street, Palmerston North
Contact Tania Kopytko
Memorial Hall, The Parade, Paekakariki
Teacher: Jan Bolwell
027 2265 755
Moera Hall, off Randwick Road, Lower Hutt
04 389 4944
Our four groups are based in Wellington, the Kapiti Coast, Lower Hutt and Palmerston North, New Zealand. Any woman can join, provided she’s over 35.
There is no entry requirement. Previous experience is not necessary and the groups are a mix of experienced, less experienced and beginner dancers.
Nearly every year since 1999 we have performed a new programme of contemporary dance. We now have a repertoire of about thirty dances.
Jan Bolwell is the director and main choreographer, but dances are also created by the directors of the Hutt Crows (Carolyn McKeefry) and the Palmerston North Crows (Tania Kopytko). We have also had guest choreographers such as Sacha Copland, director of Java Dance Company.
For our twentieth anniversary we are creating a show called ‘The Witch Project’ that examines the way women have been depicted as witches throughout history and still today.
Apart from annual dance concerts we have performed at a number of different events, including a National Midwives Conference, a National Women’s Convention, and a Cancer Society conference (2008). We are regular contributors to Wellington’s International Dance Day, running classes and demonstrations. In 2008 we performed at the Fringe Festivals in Wellington and Dunedin. Crows also took their show ‘Hakari – The Dinner Party’ to the Tempo Dance Festival in Auckland 2016.