Dancers of Damelahamid


Raven Spirit Dance

Dance Allsorts
Raven Spirit Dance

Date and Venue 18 November 2012, 2pm | Roundhouse Community Centre

Reviewer Ed Farolan

The raven in native Indian lore symbolizes transformation and is sometimes considered a trickster. In an excerpt of "Spirit Transforming",the Dancers of Damelahamid did their signature dance, a story of a young person in search of self. The dance reveals unmasking of self, and tries to answer the question, "What is contemporary Aboriginal identity in traditional dance forms?"

This company is a professional troupe hailing from the northwest coast of BC, the Gitxsan, "People of the river mists". Their dances reflect the rich history of masked dance, and in this particular excerpt, the masked young man unmasks himself in search of who he is. This question of identity reflects the multicultural mosaic of Canada whereby children born here of foreign parents are the true Canadians, the mix of the cultures from without and from within.

The second part of the one-hour program were works in progress, "Confluence" and "A Northern Journey". In "Confluence", Choreographer Margaret Grenier of Damelahamid combines her work with choreographer Michelle Olson of Raven Spirit Dance to do a contemporary version of indiginouse dance expressions.

The final dance. "A Northern Journey" by the Raven Spirit dancers Michelle Olson, Jeanette Kotowich and Kimberly Tuson reflect the contemporary dance style and described as "the land we carry inside of us". In the programme notes, the dance is described as "inspired by the Porcupine caribou herd and a First Nations traditional story about the caribou."

I enjoyed the first part and not so much the second part more so because of the traditional costumes and masks of the Damelahamid. The contemporary dances got to be boring, and I could see the children in the audience getting restless, whereas in the first part, they were more attentive.

© 2012 Ed Farolan