Femke van Doorn
Femke van Doorn-Last is Folk Dance New Zealand's patron. Her, 1985 visits to New Zealand led to the first international folkdance workshops being held in Hastings.
Femke, who was born in 1923, devoted her life to the folk dance movement. She was co-founder of the Folk dance department at the Rotterdam Dance Academy, developing her own teaching method, and wrote dance books for children ("Hoy Hoy" and "The Happy Circle") and teachers ("Teaching Learning). Small, slim, and an unbridled energetic, she organized summer camps and courses. She considered folk dance as a peace movement without politics, saying "How can you shoot at people with whom you have danced."
Her father was the writer and communist Jef Last who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War. "It was very good, but he had a young family," said Jane, "the oldest of three girls, in the beautiful documentary by Pieter Jan Smit L'ami Hollandais about the friendship of her father with André Gide. Femke, a shy, distant girl, was lost. In 1983, she met her future husband, Koos, a bellhop at Stokvis who worked during the war as a forced laborer in Germany.
Femke was studying botany in Wageningen, and refused to sign the declaration and solidarity with the resistance. She was arrested and betrayed with a gun to the head. She was put on a transport train to Germany and eventually went to a camp in Poland. After the liberation, she wanted to work with people. Koos worked with Rijkswaterstaat Femke and offered space for all its ideals. "It was a cheerful open house, much singing, and great fun. But never alcohol." said daughter Marjolijn.
In 1974, Femke became head teacher of the new folk department at the Rotterdam Dance Academy. They sought a cultural heritage, but ballet dancers scoff at clog dancers. Ballet to Femke was emotional and intense. Folk dance, on the other hand, was a welcome form of communication. They started the first Dutch folk camps in the international folk dance world.
Femke was dancing and gave English lessons to foreigners and sang until her death in Amsterdam on June 10, 2006, at age 82.
Dances Femke taught include Bogareasca, Amelose Kermis, Baonopstekker, Branle a' Six, Carmencita, Circus Horses, De Horlepiep, De Vleegerd, Driekusman, Grand March, Grinding Meal, Hakke Tone, Kinder - Madison, Jan Pierewiet, Minushka, Peerdesprong, Pieter Jan Van Straaten, Riepe Garste, Skotsse Fjouwer, Sleigh-Ride, Teeny Tiny Tilly, The Pretzel, The Yellow Bus, Three Ducklings in the Tard, Three Groovy Guys, Traveller from France, and Toemba.