Mulgrave School 2009Our upcoming CoWorks presentation is a Native Earth Performing Arts double bill of Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming and NGS (NATIVE GIRL SYNDROME). Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming was choreographed by Margaret Grenier in collaboration with Nigel Grenier and the Dancers of Damelahamid.

Margaret Grenier is of Gitxsan and Cree ancestry. She is the Executive and Artistic Director for the Dancers of Damelahamid, which is dedicated to reviving Gitxsan dance traditions and presenting Aboriginal dance. Here, we talk with Margaret about the creative process and how the work reflects challenges faced by Indigenous people, but ultimately, brought a sense of healing to the cast of artists.

DanceWorks: How did the idea for Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming come about?

Margaret Grenier: Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming emerged from a time of change within the Dancers of Damelahamid. The company was transitioning from decades of extensive song restoration to a new directive of redefining and characterizing their practice to honour this history in order that the dances may continue to be tangible and accessible for the next generation. Innovation lies at the heart of this piece, for the concept of transformation is synonymous with Luu hlotitxw. Spirit Transforming is a story of the inexplicable, of calling out without knowing what the answer will be and finding help in unexpected places. Spirit Transforming is about finding something new within oneself, or a new teaching in a story told many times.

DanceWorks: Can you describe your creative process for the work?

Margaret Grenier: Luu hlotitxw was the first full length piece that the Dancers of Damelahamid had created entirely as an originally choreographed composition, with the language of movement drawing from traditional Gitxsan dance. This process also represented a significant opportunity, to tell a story that explicitly speaks to contemporary Indigenous identity, which has been impacted by colonization in numerous ways. To do so, the piece depicts an Indigenous youth that is disconnected from community and shows their journey of healing and transformation.

DanceWorks: What are some of the challenges and rewards you have encountered while creating this work?

Margaret Grenier: This piece brings  forward a personal story of loss and rebirth that emerges from the current context that Indigenous people inhabit.  It was not an easy piece to create for it addresses themes that are very real to the company’s members. However, the process of creation also brought a process of healing and deeper understanding. Each time the piece is performed it provides hope. Luu hlotitxw stands as a testament to the possibility that any loss, no matter how great, can be overcome and that we are watched over by beings much greater than ourselves.

Damelahamid 2

Luu hlotitxw: Spirit Transforming runs from April 21-23, 2016 @ Aki Studio at 7pm, as part of a Native Earth Performing Arts – Double Bill with NGS (NATIVE GIRL SYNDROME) choreographed by Lara Kramer.

Tickets are available here.

Photo credit Derek Dix