Indigenous Dancers Reclaiming Spaces and Stories

Margaret Grenier, executive and artistic director of the Dancers of Damelahamid, grew up with the songs and dances of her Gitxsan and Cree heritage. However, these traditions were nearly lost due to the potlatch ban under the Indian Act, which prohibited traditional dance and regalia from 1885 to 1951. Grenier’s family played a crucial role in preserving these cultural practices, with her grandmother hiding regalia during the ban and her parents working to revitalize dance after its repeal. Indigenous Dancers Reclaiming Spaces and Stories

Dance holds immense significance in Gitxsan traditions, serving as a means of sharing oral history and connecting with ancestral roots. Despite historical challenges, Indigenous dancers like Grenier are reclaiming dance spaces and venues that once excluded their ancestors. Through her work, Grenier aims to inspire future generations to carry forward their cultural legacy.

Grenier’s latest production, “Raven Mother,” pays homage to her late mother, Margaret Harris, who played a pivotal role in preserving Gitxsan song and dance. The piece celebrates the resilience and dedication of Indigenous women in revitalizing cultural traditions.

In Quebec, Ivanie Aubin-Malo, a pow wow dancer and contemporary dancer, faced challenges finding spaces to practice pow wow dance. Determined to create inclusive spaces for Indigenous dancers, Aubin-Malo founded a collective that hosted workshops at the Place des Arts in Montreal. The collective’s efforts culminated in the MAQAHATINE celebration, bringing together dancers from diverse backgrounds to honor Indigenous culture and community.

Elle Sofe Sara, a Sámi contemporary dancer and choreographer in Norway, explores themes of identity and displacement through her work. Inspired by Sámi joiks and traditional movements, Sara’s choreography reflects the resilience of Indigenous peoples in the face of colonialism and assimilation.

These Indigenous dancers are not only reclaiming spaces but also sharing stories of resilience, survival, and cultural resurgence. Through their artistry and dedication, they are paving the way for a more inclusive and vibrant future for Indigenous dance worldwide.

The National Indigenous Cultural Centre (NICC) is an Indigenous home. We provide Indigenous products, music, art and news. If you want Indigenous gifts and merchandise, bush tucker food at your next event or Indigenous entertainment at your next party, expo or conference, feel free to contact us!

Tony Clemenger

Chief Executive Officer

0419 431 649

Level 1 397 Chapel Street South Yarra 3141


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