Hoop dancer James Jones is one of the performers at this year's Coastal First Nations Dance Festival
Hoop dancer James Jones is one of the performers at this year's Coastal First Nations Dance Festival

The 2016 Coastal First Nations Dance Festival, running March 1-6 at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, will showcase the stories, songs and dances of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast.

A partnership between professional aboriginal dance company, Dancers of Damelahamid, and the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA), the week-long celebration includes the debut of cultural hoop dance artist James Jones, smoke dancer Tesha Emarthle, a work-in-progress from longtime Vancouver collaborators Karen Jamieson and Margaret Grenier, and an exclusive sneak preview of Dancers of Damelahamid’s Flicker.

“As we near a decade of festival performance, it’s truly a thrill to witness the evolution of the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival and its vital role in the cultural fabric of Vancouver,” says the festival’s artistic director, Margaret Grenier. “Each season, we endeavor to assemble a talented pool of emerging and established performers, which serve as a critical link in strengthening and upholding the rich cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples. We are honoured by the opportunity to share such a diverse and meaningful array of First Nations artistic practices in the grandeur of the Great Hall at MOA.”

The ninth annual festival features artists from across coastal British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Yukon, and Washington State. Signature evening presentations and afternoon festival stage shows will run alongside a series of school workshops.

Headlining this year’s festival are Ontario-based Tesha Emarthle in a traditional smoke dance, a heart-pumping style of war dance featuring lightening-speed footwork. Joining Emarthle for a series of school group performances is hoop dancer James Jones, who has performed extensively with pow wow drumming-infused electronic group A Tribe Called Red, and was a finalist in 2009 reality show So you Think You Can Dance Canada. Jones most recently performed in the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Preparing for the festival’s upcoming 10-year anniversary, Grenier and Jamieson will premiere the work-in-progress duet, Light Breaking Through Broken, which celebrates the decades-long relationship between Dancers of Damelahamid, MOA, and Karen Jamieson Dance.

Signature Evening attendees will also see a special sneak preview of the upcoming world premiere of Flicker, an innovative, mystical performance featuring traditional coastal masked dance.

The 2016 Coastal First Nations Dance Festival runs March 1-6 at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. Visit http://damelahamid.ca for tickets and information.