Program highlights at this year's Coastal Dance Festival include intergenerational exchange and international cultural sharing with visiting artists from New Zealand and an expansion to two venues. Photo by by Carlos Castillo.
Program highlights at this year's Coastal Dance Festival include intergenerational exchange and international cultural sharing with visiting artists from New Zealand and an expansion to two venues. Photo by by Carlos Castillo.

The 2020 Coastal Dance Festival is expanding and looking to the future in its thirteenth year of presenting Canadian and global Indigenous stories, song, and dance.

In addition to returning to New Westminster’s Anvil Centre for its public performances, the festival is once again back at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology, with school performances will be performed in the Great Hall. This year’s festival features fourteen Indigenous performance groups from throughout British Columbia, Alaska, the Yukon, and Nunavut as well as international guest artists from as far away as New Zealand.

“We’re thrilled to expand our 2020 edition to two venues that have become home to the Coastal Dance Festival,” says Margaret Grenier, festival executive & artistic director in a media release. “We found such engaged new audiences at the Anvil Centre last year, and it was a joy to present our innovative, ancestral performances within the state-of-the-art space. We’re also honoured to perform for student audiences once again in MOA’s Great Hall, which will bring together the energy of local and international youth groups in a setting full of iconic Indigenous artworks.”

With a spotlight on youth and emerging artists in this edition, highlights include the emerging talents of Tooma Laisa and Leanna Wilson. The duo from Canada’s Arctic has revitalized Inuit drum songs through pairings with contemporary dance.

Also on tap is the Vancouver debut of New Zealand’s Tuakana and Teina Leadership Academy Group (TNT), a  company of artists aged 5 to 18, who focus on cultivating leadership abilities through shared learnings. TNT will participate in workshops alongside Ewk Hyaha Hozdii and Yisya’winuxw from Alert Bay, BC.

“Looking to the future of Indigenous culture and the transference of knowledge forward through the generations, I can think of no better way to bridge communities in the Northwest Coast and beyond than through our 2020 program,” continues Grenier.

Other highlights include the return of several festival favourites, including Chinook Song Catchers, the Squamish-based dance company Spakwus Slolem, and performances by Git Hayetsk and Git Hoan.

Also returning is the multigenerational Coast Salish Xwelmexw Shxwexwo:s (Salish Thunderbird), and the Haida company Rainbow Creek Dancers featuring artists Robert Davidson and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson. The mother and daughter team of Chesha7 iy lha mens will also return alongside the award-winning Inland Tlingit Dakhká Khwáan Dancers and the Nisga’a Kwhlii Gibaykw.

The 2020 Coastal Dance Festival runs February 25 – March 1 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster and the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver. Visit damelahamid.ca for tickets and information.