Older dancers bring depth to a work of grief

Older dancers bring depth and experience to a powerful work about grief. More joy, more sorrow, more love, more rage, more authenticity.

We weren’t young when we first danced a 40-minute work to Requiem by Karl Jenkins, and we know the dance had a powerful impact on audiences. This was especially true for people who knew what it is to grieve. Many years later, our bodies are less nimble but our emotional response is deeper. That’s what I notice, this time around.

Older dancers have the benefit of experience

Older dancers have as many advantages as we have disadvantages. Jan Bolwell created Requiem for Crows Feet while grieving for the death of a beloved sister. That was in 2007, so we’re all 16 years older now. Yet I still weep as I watch it or dance it. To a work like this, strong in its source and its impact, older dancers bring a rich and deep experience of life. If anything, the work has become more intense, more loving. That’s what I’m noticing as we rehearse.

A chance to see older dancers at their best

If you’re in New Zealand, especially near Wellington, you’re in luck. On Saturday 1st April 2023, the Crows Feet Dance Collective (older dancers) will perform some older dances in a Retrospective show. I hardly need tell you that the show culminates in my all-time favourite piece: Requiem.

Below is a taster: one of the nine dances that comprise Requiem. The 2022 video starts with a slide that sits there for 27 seconds, giving you time to read it. I’ll speak the text after the video for those who have difficulty reading from a video. Cinematographer: Rob Edwards.

Crows Feet dancing in Requiem by Karl Jenkins: 16 years later, with more emotional depth
Audio version of text at beginning and end of Crows Feet dance video

Come if you can!

If you live in the greater Wellington area of New Zealand, do come! This is a rare chance to see women in their 60s, 70s (several) and 80s (just me so far) — and some younger women! — dancing a work that grows ever more meaningful as we get older. Here’s to dancing as catharsis, as self-expression, as affirmation, as a loving gift. This dance by a community group of older dancers speaks to all generations. And it’s a reminder that we can all use movement to heal ourselves. I started dancing at the age of 65. It’s never too late.

Book here at Eventfinda

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16 thoughts on “Older dancers bring depth to a work of grief

  1. Beth A Rubin says:


  2. Mick Canning says:


  3. That’s wonderful!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m glad you liked it, Kate!

  4. That’s marvellous Rachel, although the camera operator didn’t concentrate on your performance as much as they should have!!!! Well done everyone.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Cameraman knew what he was doing!

  5. judithhb says:

    I have purchased s ticket, Rachel.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I’m so pleased! And I hope I finally meet you 🙂

  6. Rebecca Budd says:

    Rachel – this is absolutely FABULOUS! Wish I could fly over and see this in person. I felt the strength and unity that came together to bring depth and experience to the emotional outcry of grief.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Terrific! I made the video so slow to start that I feared nobody would see the actual dance.

      1. Rebecca Budd says:

        You did a terrific job !! Wow!

  7. Sadje says:

    This is remarkable. Bravo.

  8. You, my dear Rachel, are an extraordinary woman…after my own Ma, I want to be like you when I ‘grow up’.
    Dance free, strong woman.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      What glorious morning message! You will be like your Ma, and still be you 🙂

  9. Gallivanta says:

    Such a powerful dance. Great to see this clip. Also it was lovely to hear your conversation with Rebecca Budd. Your poem about the joy of meeting up with 5 friends was spot on for me because this past week I made a deliberate effort to catch up with different friends each day. It was so rewarding and joyful.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      We’re on the same page. No party, no big deal, but still a lovely day because of simple people time 🙂

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