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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Coastal Dance Festival supports the ongoing cultural practices of Indigenous communities

Dancers of Damelahamid present the 17th annual Coastal Dance Festival, honouring Indigenous stories, songs, and dances from across Canada and around the world from March 1-3 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.

Dancers of Damelahamid present the 17th annual Coastal Dance Festival, honouring Indigenous stories, songs, and dances from across Canada and around the world from March 1-3 at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster.

Artistic practices shape the cultural identity and well-being of our community members, and we wanted to emphasize a regional focus in 2024 to support the many artists who are integral members of our festival’s dance family. – Margaret Grenier

Alongside regional and international artists and performance groups, this year’s Festival will feature an excerpt from Dancers of Damelahamid’s upcoming full-length work, Raven Mother, created in honour of the late Elder Margaret Harris, co-founder of Dancers of Damelahamid in 1967.

“My mother, Elder Harris, dedicated her life to the revitalization and teaching of Indigenous cultural practices, including song, dance, stories, and regalia making,” says Margaret Grenier, the Festival’s executive & artistic director. “This new work speaks to her indelible legacy and the integral role of women in holding cultural knowledge. Through her profound leadership, a cultural resurgence was awakened, marking the shift between generations that has sparked a new role for our daughters as the force to hold their grandmother’s vision.”

The full-length Raven Mother is set to premiere at The Cultch in October.

This year’s programming for the three-day Festival represents the spirit of Elder Harris’ legacy, which includes Chesha7 iy lha mens (Skwxwu7mesh, Stó:lō, Tsimsian) a family group of grandmothers, mothers, and daughters, dance group Chinook Song Catchers (Skwxwu7mesh, Nisga’a) and the award-winning Inland Tlingit Dakhká Khwáan Dancers.

Returning for their second Coast Dance Festival appearances are special guests: Saskatchewan’s award-winning Métis fiddler Adam Daigneault and Māori artist Karena Koria, who will perform as one half of the Turongo Collective with his partner and wife, Milly Grant-Koria.

“Cultivating a caring community has always been at the core of the Coastal Dance Festival’s values and is more important than ever in the aftermath of the pandemic, from which the forced disruption of cultural practices is still impacting communities today,” says Grenier. “Artistic practices shape the cultural identity and well-being of our community members, and we wanted to emphasize a regional focus in 2024 to support the many artists who are integral members of our festival’s dance family.”

The 17th annual Coastal Dance Festival takes place at the Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St, New Westminster) from March 1-3. Visit damelahamid.ca for tickets and information.

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