February 3, 2016 12:24 pm

Coastal First Nations Festival to captivate and foster appreciation of First Nations cultures

Coastal First Nations Dance Festival.

Derek Dix

A former So You Think You Can Dance Canada finalist and smoke dancer will headline this year’s Coastal First Nations Dance Festival.

The annual dance festival, a partnership between Dancers of Damelahamid and UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA), is a weeklong celebration of stories, songs, and dances of the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast.

Festival artistic director Margaret Grenier said after a decade of festival performance, the event plays a vital role in Vancouver’s cultural fabric.

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“Each season, we endeavor to assemble a talented pool of emerging and established performers.”

These performers are critical to strengthening and upholding the rich cultural traditions of Indigenous peoples, added Grenier.

The festival introduced its headliners as two of Canada’s most electrifying performers. Tesha Emarthle will be bringing the smoke dance to the festival for the first time with her traditional style of war dance and lightning-speed footwork.

James Jones is a hoop dancer who has performed and toured with A Tribe Called Red, an award-winning pow wow drumming-infused electronic group. Jones was also a 2009 finalist on So You Think You Can Dance Canada and he recently performed at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Artists from across coastal B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Yukon, and Washington State will be featured in a series of evening presentations, afternoon stage shows and school workshops. The festival said the performances will provide a captivating perspective and foster a deep appreciation and understanding for First Nations cultures.

A sneak preview of the upcoming world premiere of Flicker, an innovative, mystical performance featuring traditional Coastal masked dance, will also take place during the week.

“We are honored by the opportunity to share such a diverse and meaningful array of First Nations artistic practices in the grandeur of the Great Hall at MOA,” Grenier said.

The festival runs March 1 to 6.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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