Festival highlights Indigenous dance from near and far

The 12th Annual Coastal Dance Festival comes to Anvil Centre in New Westminster. The venue is located at 777 Columbia St., a quick Skytrain ride from downtown Vancouver.

Formerly the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival, the event celebrates Indigenous stories, song, and dance from Canada and abroad. This year’s event takes place Feb. 20–24. See more below.

Coastal Dance Festival welcomes Indigenous artists from British Columbia, the Yukon, Quebec, Alaska, Washington state, and Australia. Performers include:

Émilie Monnet and Nahka Bertrand—The two are members of Odaya, an all-women traditional Native song and drum ensemble based in Montreal.

Wagana Aboriginal Dancers—From Australia, the Wagana Aboriginal Dancers perform contemporary and traditional Aboriginal dances inspired by the country’s Blue Mountains and Central New South Wales west country.

Dancers of Damelahamid—An Indigenous dance company from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, the Dancers of Damelahamid help organize the festival. This year, the troupe performs, in full regalia, an excerpt from their new work Mînowin. The piece “integrates narrative, movement, song, performance, and new multimedia design to connect landscapes and Coastal form line with contemporary perspectives of customary Indigenous dance forms,” according to the media release.

Barbara Kaneratonni Diabo and Emily Diabo—The Montreal-based mother/daughter duo shares a tribute to Mohawk iron-workers.

Spakwus Slolem (Eagle Song Dancers)—The Squamish-based festival favourite performs songs and dances representative of their canoe culture.

Boyd Benjamin, aka the Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler, and singer-songwriter Kevin Barr also perform.

You can catch these acts and more at the ticketed Signature Evening Performances and the pay-what-you-can Festival Stage Performances. The Signature Evening Performances feature from Dancers of Damelahamid and special guest artists and take place Feb. 22 & 23 from 7:30–9:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults; $25 for students/seniors.

The Festival Stage Performances are afternoon showcase presentations by visiting performers. They take place Feb. 23 & 24, from 1-4 p.m.

For more info and tickets, visit dancersofdamelahmid or anvilcentre.com.

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