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

Humboldt memorial hockey tournament will make its return in Nanaimo

Fundraising tournament set for Nanaimo North Town Centre parking lot on May 5

Anti-immigration party is on the ballot in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Opposing candidate says National Citizens Alliance’s participation ‘highly problematic’

VIDEO: Next up on World of Dance: Vancouver Island’s Funkanometry faces ‘the cut’

Duncan’s Carlow Rush and Nanaimo’s Jacksun Fryer have passed the qualifying stage chasing $1 million

Clippers optimistic as they put finishing touches on cup-hosting bid

Nanaimo’s junior A hockey club hopes to host RBC Cup nationals in 2020-21

VIU visual art show spans a Spectrum of art forms

Spectrum: Visual Art Major Grad Show continues until May 9 at the View Gallery

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Nanaimo says ‘hats off’ to community’s countless volunteers

Volunteer Nanaimo offered thanks during National Volunteer Week

Most Read