If you’ve been to the UBC Museum of Anthropology, then you’ve probably stopped to admire the Great Hall. Glass walls rise several stories high, flooding the enormous hall with light. Inside are towering totem poles from Haida and other first nations villages along the British Columbia coast. It’s a breathtaking way to glimpse the area’s rich aboriginal history.
Now imagine the Great Hall filled with with some of the best aboriginal dancers from throughout the province and around the world. From March 8-March 11, the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival returns to the Museum of Anthropology for four days of world-class performances in the shadow of the totem poles in the Great Hall. Celebrating its fifth year, the festival brings together acclaimed dancers from British Columbia, Manitoba, the Yukon, Alaska and as far away as Australia.
The festival is the brainchild of the Dancers of Damelahamid, an aboriginal dance company from northwestern British Columbia who are part of the Gitxsan, the “people of the river mist,” who are renowned for their distinctive button blankets. The Dancers of Damelahamid bring the rich tradition of aboriginal masked dancing to the stage, combining dramatic choreography with thrilling stories, richly carved masks and elaborate traditional clothing.
There are several ways you can experience the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival. On the weekend of March 10 and March 11, visiting performers will take the stage from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. These shows are included as part of the normal Museum of Anthropology admission.
The headline performances, by the Dancers of Damelahamid themselves, are March 9 and March 10 at 7:30 p.m. These performances ($25 adults/$20 students) have sold out in past years, and they feature special guests from aboriginal groups from around the province.
Anyone been to the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival in the past? How was it?