They  combine forces locally in Paekakariki next month  in Once Upon a Dance, an hour long show which tells the story of their dancing lives.

Crows Feet Collective 

Both are members of Crows Feet Dance Collective, a contemporary dance company for mature women in Wellington. Jan is also a playwright and actor, and teaches dance exercise classes on the Kapiti Coast. Mona is a well known professional storyteller touring frequently around Australasia.  

       Bolwell, who directs Crows Feet says: “Mona and I come from such different cultural and dancing backgrounds. Mona grew up in what was once British Guiana and learned her traditional dances, as well as studying ballet. I grew up in Dunedin and learned Highland dancing and then modern dance with Shona MacTavish.

We have found it fascinating to put these different dance traditions beside each other in a theatrical way with the help of our director, Ralph McAllister”.

       Bolwell and Williams also have a lot in common. They discovered the first ballet they ever saw was The Nutcracker, albeit on different sides of the globe. They recount in words and movement how it felt to be in the audience.  

As young people they adored American musicals and knew all the songs. “We have great fun in this show doing a favourite number from South Pacific”.

Apart from storytelling, Bolwell and Williams dance and sing, and the work is richly illustrated with projected images from their lives. But it’s not all light and amusing. Says Bolwell: “When you get to our age (Jan is 68 and Mona is 75) you’ve experienced a lot of heartache, and we don’t shy away from telling these stories as well. In my case it is dealing with two bouts of breast cancer and with Mona, it is a broken marriage. Dance helped us overcome these personal traumas.”

  Premiered in Palmerston (North), and Dunedin

Jan Bolwell

Once Upon a Dance had its premiere in March in Palmerston North and Dunedin where it received glowing reviews.

‘This is the kind of show you should see if you love women, dance, politics, being alive, New Zealand, rebellion, music, strength, history, stories – if you thrive on being part of the world around you and embracing everything it throws at you, you’ll find something that resonates.’   Theatreview 20/3/18

‘These are two very strong, brave, life mature women. They come from such very different cultural backgrounds and have both faced fierce adversity. This production tells those stories with depth, humour, generosity, honesty and joy.’  Theatreview 14/3/18

Performance details

St Peters Hall, Paekakariki

Sat 16 June 7.30pm

Sun 17 June 3.00pm


Te Whaea: National Dance & Drama Centre, Wellington

Fri 22 June 7.30pm

Sat 23 June 4.00pm

Sun 24 June 4.00pm

For further information contact:

Jan Bolwell

027 2265755


website: janbolwell.com

DOOR SALES (cash only) OR BOOKINGS AT eventfinda.co.nz

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