16th Annual Coastal Dance Festival

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

Dancers of Damelahamid will host the 16th annual Coastal Dance Festival, honouring Indigenous stories, song, and dance from the Northwest Coast, Canada and around the world, March 2-5, 2023 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.

In celebration of reciprocity between global Indigenous communities, this year’s festival will support a cultural exchange with New Zealand, featuring the festival debut of New Zealand Indigenous performing artist Rosie Te Rauawhea Belvie. Dancers of Damelahamid will then travel to New Zealand to share their cultural knowledge at the biannual Indigenous performance festival, Kia Mau, in June 2023.

Dancers of Damelahamid by Chris Randle
Dancers of Damelahamid by Chris Randle

16th Annual Coastal Dance Festival

  • When: March 2-5, 2023
  • Where: Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St, New Westminster)
  • Tickets:
    • Purchase online now
    • Signature Evening Performances $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors (March 2 & 3 at 8:00pm)
    • Festival Stage Performances by donation (March 4 & 5 1:00pm to 4:00pm)
    • Artist Sharing, free admission (March 2 & 3 at 6:30pm)

“We are thrilled to welcome Indigenous artists from the Northwest Coast, across Canada, the U.S. and Australia and New Zealand to share their artistic practices and cultural knowledge,” says Margaret Grenier, Festival Executive & Artistic Director.

“Our programming provides a platform for cultural sharing to deepen our understanding of our festival artists’ histories and sources of inspiration, in celebration of the ongoing cultural revitalization and resiliency of so many communities around the world. We are honoured for the opportunity to receive this ancestral knowledge from artists close to home and globally, and, in turn, to share our own traditions with the people of New Zealand later this year.”

In addition to the festival debut of Rosie Te Rauawhea Belvie (New Zealand), Coastal Dance Festival’s Signature Evening Series will feature an exclusive excerpt by Dancers of Damelahamid from their next full-length work Raven Mother, set to premiere in 2024. This excerpt follows a recent dance residency at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in December 2022 to further develop this work.

The Festival’s Signature Evening Series will also include a performance from Paunnakuluit (Inuit), a group comprised of drum dancers and traditional Inuit throat singers Tooma Laisa and Leanna Wilson; Australia’s intergenerational Wagana Aboriginal Dancers, who perform traditional and contemporary dances inspired by the Blue Mountains; Alberta-based Cree multidisciplinary artist and classically trained flutist Jessica McMann; Squamish-based Spakwus Slolem (Skwxwu7mesh), who share their canoe and cedar longhouse culture; Yisya̱’winux̱w (Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw), a group representing many of the 16 tribes of the Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw people on Northern Vancouver Island; and Rainbow Creek Dancers (Haida), in celebration of traditional Haida ceremonial dances.

As part of this year’s by-donation Festival Stage Series, Coastal Dance Festival welcomes performances from several of the Festival’s Signature Series artists, including Rosie Te Rauawhea Belvie, Paunnakuluit, Wagana Aboriginal Dancers, Yisya̱’winux̱w, and Dancers of Damelahamid. The daytime weekend performances will include the festival debut of Saskatchewan’s award-winning Métis fiddler Adam Daigneault, and the return of numerous festival favourites: dynamic dance group Chinook Song Catchers (Skwxwu7mesh, Nisga’a); mask-dancing groups Git Hayetsk (Nisga’a, Tsimshian) and Git Hoan (Tsimshian); a family group from many First Nations Xwelmexw Shxwexwo:s (Stó:lō, Musqueam, Sts:ailes, Snuneymuxw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Skwxwu7mesh); the award-winning Inland Tlingit Dakhká Khwáan Dancers; and Chesha7 iy lha mens (Skwxwu7mesh, Stó:lō, Tsimsian), a family group of grandmothers, mothers, and daughters. 

This year’s festival will also feature the return of its Artist Sharing Series, with two free offerings for guests on Thursday, March 2 and Friday, March 3, at 6:30pm. Thursday’s sharing will discuss the connection of dance to ancestral lands and Friday’s sharing will discuss the connection of dance to ancestral language.

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