It was a performance full of story song and dance that captivated the audience full of students, teachers and parents at David Hoy Elementary school.
On Dec. 4, in their most distinctive button regalia, the professional dance group, Dancers of Damelahamid performed their new piece In Abundance as they transformed time and space and bridged the ancient with living traditions
The Dancers of Damelahamid are an inter-generational, First Nations dance company who have performed across the World. They share their Gitxsan Ancestry through dramatic masked performances that include intricately carved masks, elaborate regalia and a moving narrative from Excutive Artisitic Director, Margaret Grenier.
“It’s all about being kind and considerate and being thankful for the resources we have,” Grenier said.
The main theme of the dance piece is based on the salmon cycle and focuses on important cultural teachings surrounding balance, community and sustainability.
The salmon symbolize abundance and are a key reminder of the importance to value and protect this essential source and to take only what we need as there is plenty for all to share.
Gitxsan means ‘people of the river of mists’. They are part of the Northwest of British Colombia. Damelahamid is the original city of their ancestors known today as Hazelton, B.C.
It is this ancestry that is celebrated today after over four decades of extensive work of song restoration that has survived through a new role: to dance as a performance for public audiences rather than as a private expression while still upholding the cultural wealth of their ancestry.
The Company’s mandate is to advance the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the art, history, language and traditions, of First Nations’ culture. Through story, song and dance young students can gain insight into the continuing traditions of Indigenous people of Canada.
The students at David Hoy School were captivated by the elaborate masks and in the end they eagerly joined in interactive song in the Gitxsan language.
Grenier and the dancers ended with the Happy Song.
“Amhl goodi’y noon ga’wesim – I am glad to see you all.”