The Dancers of Damelahamid will be performing at Vancouver Island University's Malaspina Theatre on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Production dances with the concept of renewal

NANAIMO – Dancers of Damelahamid perform at the Vancouver Island University on Saturday night.

For generations, First Nations from across the northwest coast held potlatches.

They were ceremonial events that saw personal possessions given away as gifts or destroyed as a sign of status and wealth.

Many of these potlatches involved song, dance and feasts and were vital sources of cultural identity for First Nations.

But in 1884 potlatches became illegal when the Canadian government decided to ban the practice. It wouldn’t be until 1951 that the ban was lifted.

And while the cultural damage sustained by First Nations was heavy, it wasn’t lost.

“After the potlatch ban was lifted there was a lot of song dance revitalization on the coast,” said Margaret Grenier, artistic director for the Dancers of Damelahamid.

On Saturday (Oct. 3), the Dancers of Damelahamid will be performing Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming at Vancouver Island University’s Malaspina Theatre.

Spirit Transforming dances with the concept of renewal and transformation, something British Columbia knows all about.

“The dance piece is about rebirth,” Grenier said. “I think that in our history in B.C. we’ve gone through a lot of transformation, especially within the last 100 years.”

The production was created approximately three years ago by Grenier and is based on the traditional form of Gitxsan dance. It tells the story of a First Nations person who experiences a rebirth.

“It is about a young person in search of their identity as an aboriginal person,” Grenier said. “The main character sort of takes you through a narrative of this journey through dance.”

As artistic director, Grenier has choreographed and produced multiple works for the Dancers of Damelahamid. Her previous work has toured in places such as China, New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

Grenier came up with the idea to create Spirit Transforming shortly after the passing of her father, Ken Harris, who along with her mother, Margaret, founded the Dancers of Damelahamid in 1960.

“It is a project that has a very personal place for me,” Grenier said. “I began the creation process after my father passed. It was at a time for me where I was relooking at myself and identity as a Gitxsan woman and what that means.”

Grenier, who is of Gitxsan and Cree ancestry, says creating the production was rigorous at times and often forced her to dig deep within herself.

“For myself, in many ways, it was a coming of age. Even though I was not a young person as depicted in the dance itself,” Grenier said. “It isn’t an easy thing to look at change. It isn’t an easy thing to carry the responsibility of staying grounded in the foundation of all you have been taught and finding a way to open that and create something new.”The Dancers of Damelahamid perform Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person or $80 for a group of four people. They can be purchased either at the door or by visiting www.crimsoncoast.org. For additional information on the Dancers of Damelahamid and Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming, please visit www.damelahamid.ca.arts@nanaimobulletin.comTwitter: @npescod

 

Just Posted

Hospice helped with community hike

Nanaimo Community Hospice Society’s Hike for Hospice was held Saturday at Westwood Lake

Space rock band Possum will make Nanaimo debut

This month the group releases its first full-length record, ‘Space Grade Assembly’

Dogs, dogs and more dogs in Nanoose this weekend

Nanaimo Kennel Club hosts annual show

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cars too hot to leave kids unattended

A campaign on preventative measures is needed, says letter writer

Nanaimo dancer to join ‘renowned’ European ballet company

Nico Janssen to teach classes at Vibe Studios before joining Royal Danish Ballet

Dogs, dogs and more dogs in Nanoose this weekend

Nanaimo Kennel Club hosts annual show

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Every cigarette and lottery ticket stolen from Parksville’s Log Cabin General Store

Break-in, theft occurred late on June 10 or early June 11

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

Vancouver Island Chamber Music Festival comes to Nanaimo

Performances to take place over two days at St. Paul’s Anglican Church

Truck loaded with culverts tips over on highway exit in Nanaimo

Crash blocks northbound access to Trans Canada Highway from Duke Point Highway

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Most Read