The Dancers of Damelahamid is an Indigenous dance company of the Gitxsan Nation. The Gitxsan, “people of the river of mists,” are part of the coastal group of cultures with a rich history of masked dance. Through dramatic dance, captivating narrative, intricately carved masks and elaborate regalia, the Dancers of Damelahamid bridge the ancient with a living tradition.
Flicker is an innovative multi-media dance piece that combines graphic design with vivid, rich imagery featuring a unique sceno-graphic hybrid of projection and live-action shadow dance. Through the combination of intricate set design and choreography, the stage is given a life-size feel that represents the mystical realm portrayed through coastal masked dance.
In this profound performance, Flicker, embodied as the main character in this piece, tells the story of a young man who discovers his potential as he journeys through the world. The flicker, a woodpecker from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia, is a transcendent figure often represented in coastal masks and carries cultural significance in coastal art forms. Just as light shimmers, the audience follows the flicker over the mountain and through the forest as he encounters wandering souls, dancers, and mythical characters. Through his cloak, the masked dancers cross through space and time, in and out of the 'spirit world' of their ancestors demonstrating how to access true potential without limitation. A link between First Nations traditions and more current forms, Flicker guides audiences on a journey to acquire ancestral gifts and strengthen capacity to create change and explores the diversity of dance and reflects the complexity of Indigenous identities.
Artistic director and choreographer, Margaret Grenier, notes: “The flicker in the story is meaningful on several levels. The literal flicker, the woodpecker, is significant within Northwest coast design. The split-u design, which is one of the primary components of Northwest coast art, comes from the tail feathers of a flicker. Flicker as a metaphor represents the flickering of light. Just like a small flame needs to be nurtured to grow strong, so do the artistic practices of Indigenous song and dance need constant care and diligent effort to grow and strengthen.”
About Dancers of Damelahamid
Dancers of Damelahamid are a professional Aboriginal dance company from the northwest coast of British Columbia. The Gitxsan, ‘people of the river of mists’ are part of the coastal group of cultures that have the distinctive button blanket regalia. Their rich history of masked dance inspires a compelling performance, celebrating the diversity and time depth of the many beautiful Indigenous cultures across Canada. Through dramatic dance, captivating narrative, intricately carved masks and elaborate regalia the Dancers of Damelahamid transform time and space, and bridge the ancient with a living tradition.
Under the guidance of choreographer Margaret Grenier, Executive and Artistic Director for the Dancers of Damelahamid, the company has produced extensive work of song restoration reaching national and international audiences that include Setting the Path 2004, Sharing the Spirit 2007 (New Zealand in 2008 and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China), Visitors Who Never Left 2009, Dancing Our Stories 2010, Spirit Transforming 2012, In Abundance 2013 and Flicker 2016. It is the current directive of the Dancers of Damelahamid to redefine their practice in order that dance and song may continue to be tangible and accessible for the next generation.