Coastal Dance Festival 2021

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Dancers of Damelahamid invites audiences to participate in a celebration of Indigenous arts as part of the newly envisioned, virtual presentation of the 14th annual Coastal Dance Festival.

Dancers of Damelahamid. Photo by Chris Randle.
Dancers of Damelahamid. Photo by Chris Randle.

Coastal Dance Festival 2021

When: March 12-18, 2021
Where: Online through Vimeo
Tickets: None required. Donations are encouraged.

The free, online festival will feature the world premiere of a new short dance work in honour of the late Elder Margaret Harris by Dancers of Damelahamid filmed at the Anvil Centre, as well as performances and cultural sharing by many of the festival’s long-standing artists, including the Dakhká Khwáan DancersGit Hayetsk DancersGit Hoan DancersSpakwus Slolem‘Yisya̱’winux̱w Dancers, and David Robert Boxley.

“As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times due to COVID-19, it’s essential that we also celebrate the resilience and strength of our Indigenous communities,” says Margaret Grenier, Festival Executive & Artistic Director.

“While the festival will be presented in a very different way than in past years, we are committed to providing a vital platform for the protection and preservation of Indigenous dance and protocols. Indigenous identity and cultural wellbeing are lived practices and it’s essential for Indigenous people to continuously practice and share their songs and dances in order to maintain them, for the wellbeing of our communities.”

As part of the 2021 online festival, Dancers of Damelahamid will share a preview of a newly choreographed short dance work in honour of the late Elder Margaret Harris—who recently passed on July 15, 2020, at the age of 89—and the profound impact she had on the revitalization of Indigenous song and dance along the Northwest Coast. Margaret Harris and her husband Chief Harris—who passed away in 2010—founded Dancers of Damelahamid in 1967 and have been recognized nationally and internationally for the influence they had in Indigenous performing arts.

Program Highlights

  • Whitehorse’s award-winning Inland Tlingit Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, whose dance group focuses on reclaiming their languages and traditional values through their inherent art form of singing, drumming, dancing, and storytelling.
  • A lively performance featuring mask dances from the Git Hayetsk Dancers, based in Kitsumkalum, B.C. and led by Mike and Mique’l Dangeli.
  • Washington-based Git Hoan Dancers, led by Tsimshian artist and dance leader David Boxley and recognized internationally for their use of masks and high energy performance, who will share a Tsimshian-style song and dance featuring 10-15 performers.
  • Squamish-based dance company Spakwus Slolem, presenting Squamish culture, songs, and dances for the last 20 years, who will perform a traditional welcome ceremony.
  • Alert Bay’s ‘Yisya̱’winux̱w Dancers, whose six dancers and four singers will perform four dances, including a traditional welcome dance and the Hamatsa “Cannibal Dance”—the highest-ranking and most sacred of the T̓seḵa “Winter Ceremonies” of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw.
  • Metlakatla, Alaska’s David Robert Boxley, who will tell ancient stories, once told by the Tsimshian people over thousands of years, in both Sm’algyax and English.
  • Youth artists Casey James and Demetrius Paul.

All 2021 Coastal Dance Festival performances will be available for viewing for free on Vimeo. In lieu of ticket prices, donations to Dancers of Damelahamid are welcome via Canada Helps. Donations will be in support of the dance company’s educational outreach, including workshops, demonstrations, and artist talks with school and youth groups. 

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