We are thrilled to be co-presenting Mînowin by Dancers of Damelahamid as part of the Mòshkamo: Indigenous Arts Rising festival. We see this as a start to a great relationship between NAC Dance and Indigenous Theatre to foster our mutual desire to bring more Indigenous dance artists to our stages.
Margaret Grenier’s work evokes the natural and spiritual worlds of the potlach societies of the Northwest Coast of British Columbia and their relationship to the environment. By sourcing traditional Mask Dance, contemporary dance and ancient forms and understandings of creation, Dancers of the Damelahamid take us on a journey into the Northwest Coast Indigenous ontology, through movement and stunningly beautiful visions.
Margaret Grenier and Dancers of Damelahamid have been bringing important stories of their home to audiences across Canada to magical effect, and we are so proud to have the world premiere of their newest creation.
KEVIN LORING, Artistic Director, Indigenous Theatre du CNA
CATHY LEVY, Executive Producer, NAC Dance
Growing up in a small community on the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, I was immersed from a young age in the practice of song and dance that had been passed down for countless generations. As Executive and Artistic Director for the Dancers of Damelahamid, I treasure dance as the most significant inheritance I have from my ancestors and it will be a life journey to strive to develop the art form to its potential. For myself, dance, song and story have provided a protective environment to address the limitations placed on our Indigenous peoples and to create a healing space. Our bodies, thoughts, emotional attachments and prayers are connected through the ceremony of dance.
In our performances we are not only turning to our ancestral knowledge for our own reconciliation but we are sharing and supporting others through our art.
Dancers of Damelahamid is an Indigenous dance company from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, founded upon over five decades of extensive work of song restoration. Their rich history of masked dance inspires a compelling performance, celebrating the diversity and time depth of the many beautiful Indigenous cultures across Canada. Through dramatic dance, captivating narrative, intricately carved masks and elaborate regalia, the Dancers of Damelahamid transform time and space, and bridge the ancient with a living tradition.
For countless generations song and dance played an integral part in defining art and culture, and was banned by the Canadian government for several decades, though it was still privately maintained. The Dancers of Damelahamid emerged in the 1960s out of an urgency to ensure that the knowledge of their ancestors was not lost. Over the 50 years that followed, a changed society created the context for the dances to survive through a new role: dance as a performance for public audiences.
Since 2003, the Dancers of Damelahamid has established itself as a preeminent professional Indigenous dance company that has self-produced several theatre based productions and choreographed dance works. The company has produced the annual Coastal Dance Festival since 2008, presenting Indigenous dance from throughout the BC Coast, as well as hosting guest national and international artists. It is the current directive of the Dancers of Damelahamid to redefine and characterize their practice so that the dances may continue to be tangible and accessible for the next generations.