Indigenous Youth and New Artists Celebrated in Vancouver’s Coastal Dance Festival

Coastal Dance Festival. Photos by Carlos Castillo.

The energy and rich culture on stage at the upcoming Coastal Dance Festival are going to be incredible.

Audiences are in for a vibrant showcasing of Indigenous dance, with a particular focus on emerging artists and youth talent.

The 13th annual Coastal Dance Festival takes place February 25 to March 1, 2020, with an expansion to two venues this year: Anvil Centre (New Westminster) and the Great Hall in the Museum of Anthropology (UBC).

The festival is presented by Dancers of Damelahamid, an Indigenous dance company from BC’s northwest coast who aim to spotlight the past, present, and future of song, dance, and storytelling. They proudly acknowledge that the festival will be taking place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Qayqayt and Musqueam peoples.

There will be plenty to experience and celebrate over the course of the six-day festival. A total of 14 Indigenous performance groups will be hosted, representing this province, as well as the Canadian territories Yukon and Nunavut. International artists from Alaska and further afield (e.g. New Zealand) will also be participating.

Coastal Dance Festival. Photos by Carlos Castillo.

Many favourites from previous years will be returning, such as Git Hayetsk, Git Hoan, the Coast Salish Tsatsu Stalquayu (Coastal Wolf Pack), the Chinook Song Catchers, and the Squamish Spakwus Slolem.

This year, in particular, aims to recognize the exciting future of Indigenous dance and culture by presenting groups who are newly emerging, and youth performers who exemplify talent and cultural leadership. New Zealand’s Tuakana and Teina Leadership Academy Group (TNT), with artists who are 5 to 18 years old, will perform in workshops with Ewk Hyaha Hozdii and Yisya’winuxw from Alert Bay, BC. This will be TNT’s Vancouver debut. Tooma Laisa and Leanna Wilson are also highly anticipated with their performances that bring Inuit drum songs in musical conversation with contemporary dance.

Coastal Dance Festival. Photos by Carlos Castillo.

The main event wil be the Signature Evening Performance (ticketed gala event: $30 for adults, $25 for seniors/students/MOA members – service charges will apply) at Anvil Centre on February 28, 2020, at 7:30pm. Spakwus Slolem (Squamish), Dancers of Damelahamid, Tooma Laisa and Leanna Wilson (Inuit), and Rainbow Creek (Haida) will be performing.

Other festival stage performances are by donation. On Februrary 29, 2020, Anvil Centre will host three performance at 1pm (Tsatsu Stalquayu – Musqueam, Dakhká Khwáan – Inland Tlingit), 2pm (Yisya’winuxw – Kwakwaka’wakw Tuakana and Teina Leadership Academy Group – Māori), and 3pm (Git Hoan – Tsimshian). On March 1, 2020, the venue will have another three programs: 1pm (Kwhlii Gibaykw – Nisga’a, Dakhká Khwáan – Inland Tlingit), 2pm (Tooma Laisa and Leanna Wilson – Inuit, Git Hayetsk – Nisga’a/Tsimshian), and 3pm (Chinook Song Catchers – Squamish).

In addition, there will be performances to elementary and high school students at MOA February 25 to February 27, 2020, for cultural sharing and bridging communities. Performers will include Chesha7 iy lha mens (Squamish), as well as Dancers of Damelahamid.

More info and tickets are available on-line. Pre-booking is required for school groups (604-822-3825 for MOA peformances and 604-521-5050 for Anvil Centre performances).

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