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Contemporary dance matriarch Rachel Browne dies

CDA is saddened by the news that Canadian dance legend Rachel Browne has passed away. Our thoughts and condolences are with her family and friends.

Rachel Browne, the nationally respected founder of Canada’s oldest contemporary dance company and the matriarch of the dance scene in Winnipeg, died suddenly in Ottawa on Saturday.

Browne, 77, died peacefully in her sleep at an Ottawa hotel, said Stephanie Ballard, her fellow choreographer and friend of 40 years. The cause of death has not been determined.

Browne was in Ottawa accompanying students from the School of Contemporary Dancers who performed at the Canada Dance Festival on Saturday.

The trailblazing dancer, choreographer and teacher founded Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers (WCD) in 1964 and started its school in 1972.

Born Ray Minkoff in Philadelphia in 1934, she trained as a ballet dancer. She came to Winnipeg from New York City in 1957 to join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. After four years with the company she retired to raise her family, but missed dance and began to choreograph in a non-classical style.

Browne served as artistic director of WCD for nearly 20 years. In the early days she toiled as the administrator, fundraiser and publicist as well as the main dancer and choreographer.

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Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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