Raven Mother is a newly choreographed multi-media dance work by the Dancers of Damelahamid in honour of the late Elder Margaret Harris (1931-2020). A respected Cree Elder from Northern Manitoba, she spent a large part of her life on the Northwest Coast of BC with her husband, the late Chief Kenneth Harris. Together, Elder Margaret Harris and Chief Harris founded the Dancers of Damelahamid in 1967, and with this piece, the company is creating a tangible remembrance of this legacy through song and dance.
Raven Mother illustrates the vast impact that Elder Margaret Harris had on the revitalization of song and dance along the Northwest Coast, and the resiliency of Indigenous cultural practices despite colonial efforts to erase them. The newly created work is not a literal biographical account: rather, it illuminates the significance of this resurgence, the essential role of our mothers in holding cultural knowledge, and their force and influence in awakening Indigenous dance.
Dancers of Damelahamid is an Indigenous dance company founded upon over five decades of extensive work of song and dance revitalization. For countless generations, Indigenous dance played an integral part in defining art and culture. In response to the lifting of the Potlatch Ban (1884 – 1951), was the resurfacing of dance and the awakening of an art form that was outlawed for almost 70 years. The Dancers of Damelahamid emerged in the 1960s out of an urgency to ensure that these artistic practices were not lost.
The Dancers of Damelahamid has since established itself as a leading professional Indigenous dance company. The company’s artistic approaches have contributed to its abilities to bridge creative practices and to work with innovative mediums, while maintaining commitment to the integrity of their artistic legacy. It is through continual and diligent practice that this dance form endures as non-static and relevant to current innovation, influence, and insights.
The National Creation Fund’s investment of $175,000 supports the design and creation of a large-scale Raven Canoe and Raven sculpture, which are integral to the work. In addition, the Fund’s investment makes possible several residencies, providing additional time to integrate lighting, projection and motion control, and ensuring that all technical aspects are interwoven with the embodied Indigenous narrative.
Co-produced by The CanDance Network Creation Fund, National Arts Centre (Ottawa, Canada), Danse Danse (Montreal), DanceWorks (Toronto), Dance Victoria (Victoria).
Developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund, the Anvil Theatre, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Vancouver East Cultural Centre (The Cultch), the Venables Theatre, the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council, the Government of Canada, and the Hamber Foundation.
Premiering in the Fall of 2024.