I have known the Dancers of Damelahamid since 1990, when we collaborated on
a work called Gawa Gyani. Their productions have absolute integrity, and resonant beauty as a cultural construct. As a dance artist who is not First Nations, I feel these dances went beyond dance, as known in the western tradition, in what they referred to and encompassed.
They have continued to work with the rigor of the traditional forms that were passed on to them and also to begin to innovate within the forms, drawing in stories and songs and dances that had not been formalized and experimenting with new theatrical techniques and production elements. The result has been a freshness, vitality and vigor in the work. What stands out in their work is their passionate commitment to communicate the significance, importance and wealth of knowledge embodied by the traditional dance forms.
Artistic Director & Choreographer
Karen Jamieson Dance
The setting was incredibly dramatic. By the beginning of the performance, the sun had already set and I could see the sky slowly turning from light to darker blue through the windows. Several totem poles were dramatically lit from below, outlining their carved features and increasing their presence in the space.
Grenier and her group's dancers performed in beautiful regalia that included abalone-shell inlay in their headpieces that glinted turquoise and cream in the lights as well as traditional red and black button blankets and moccasins.
The evening opened with Elder Larry Grant welcoming the visiting dancers and the audience to traditional Musqueam territory. It made me think of the passage of time and what kind of dramatic changes both the Musqueam and all the other visitors who never left Vancouver will experience in the next 250 years...
The Vancouver Sun (2009)
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I watched the opening gala performance on Thursday evening of "The Visitors Who Never Left" with wonder. This stunning piece is a creation of the Dancers of Damelahamid, telling the story of their Gitksan origins (present day Hazelton, BC).
The rest of the weekend was filled with some wonderful performances by First Nations dance groups from all over the west coast. The First Peoples Performance from the Yukon was definitely the most represented in terms of numbers. Their call and answer entry was a spectacular display of colourful regalia, powerful voices and much joy.
One of the members of this group spoke movingly of how, Our elders are right beside their grandchildren again and that he was proud to Just be who we are. The whole dance festival was filled with these tender moments of gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation for how far the First Nations people have come.
Freelance Travel Writer in Vancouver, BC
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The Museum is pleased to have worked in close partnership with the Dancers of Damelahamid and as an institution we are continuously impressed with the remarkable amount of time and effort all of the dancers put into developing their craft. Alongside the educational programming, I am excited to host another evening event and a weekend of dance. It is always special to have new works and traditional works performed at MOA. The combination of the two exemplifies your on-going artistic achievements and commitment to creating new and exciting performances.
Jill Baird, PhD.
Curator of Education and Public Programmes
UBC Museum of Anthropology
The Coastal First Nations Dance Festival provides another opportunity for networking with other First Nations cultural performance groups. We are learning and inspiring each other. The high level of professionalism displayed by all performers demonstrates the respect we all have for one another.
It is through performing at events such as those organized by the Dancers of Damelahamid that we are able to hone our performing arts to the level where we can shine on a world stage.
Latash – Maurice Nahanee
Squamish and Nisga'a Nations
This festival has been integral in encouraging our artistic practices reflective of our traditional forms of dancing, singing, drumming and through our visual arts.
The Festival provides an opportunity for groups like ours, who are isolated away from major groups like the Dancers of Damelahamid and others, to build significant relationships with each other. Not only does this strengthen our group in our own development but has led to countless other invitations and opportunities to showcase our dance group and our work.
We look forward to participating in this wonderful event and view it as a highlight to our
President & Dance Group Leader
The Dakhká¡ Khwá¡an Dancers
Tagish and Tlingit Nations
With much hard work and commitment they achieve their goal of proudly sharing First Nations cultures by giving their guests a rare opportunity to experience a variety of ancestral history and stories. For many, it is very emotional as they witness the powerful message brought to life through song and dance, a way which everyone can understand and appreciate.
Director Le-La-La Dancers