Photo by Chris Randle

Coastal Dance Festival

New Westminster, British Columbia

April 21, 2022 – April 24, 2022

Presented by
Dancers of Damelahamid / Coastal Dance Festival

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Coastal Dance Festival is a celebration of the stories, songs and dances of the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast with guest national and international artists.

As Coastal Dance Festival celebrates its commemorative 15th anniversary, they are immensely grateful to showcase a Northern focus in the festival programming. By bringing together Indigenous artists from across the Northern hemisphere, the festival attests to the diversity and strength of Indigenous arts, language, song, dance and regalia from these regions. This collaboration not only strengthens artistic practices, but encourages collective understanding of our unique histories and cultures, which is something we can all benefit from in an increasingly divided world.

As part of Nordic Bridges, Coastal Dance Festival will premiere works from Indigenous Sámi artists from Norway and Sweden. An evening dedicated to contemporary Indigenous dance will feature Norway’s Camilla Therese Karlsen who will present an excerpt of Čiegus bálggis/skjult/Hidden Path, as well as a duet from Swedish-based Sámi contemporary dancers and choreographers Liv Aira and Marika Renhuvud. The festival will also present several traditional Indigenous artists, including Norway’s Sámi singer and activist Sara Marielle Gaup and Sámi singer and poet Lawra Somby. Click here to view the full festival programme.

The Festival is presented in partnership with the Dancers of Damelahamid and the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, BC.

Thursday, April 21
Liv Aira and Marika Renhuvud

Liv Aira is a native Swedish dancer, choreographer, artistic director, from Sápmi, Jokkmokk. She often reflects on her Sámi heritage in her arts. Liv produces and creates dance shows for different ages, creates screen dance, and arranges the screen dance festival Låvda through her company Invisible People Contemporary Dance Company. Liv’s art is described as powerful, spiritual, and imaginative in her animalistic movements. She graduated from Institute of The Arts Barcelona in 2018 with a Master degree in Dance and Choreography. From 2014-2017 she studied BA (Hons) in Dance and Physiotherapy Education in Sweden. Liv is currently touring Ájttega – the ancestors and Akti Lij – once upon a time, which inform the world about the existence of the land, Sápmi.

Marika is a modern dancer/choreographer from the North of Dalarna in Sweden. She studied at the school of New Education For Contemporary Dance in Härnösand and Balettakademien in Stockholm and has a Diploma in Dance for children and youth. She is passionate about spreading knowledge of her Sámi origin and culture through dance. Marika has worked as a dance teacher and in recent years is working on her own dance workshops for children and youth. Marika is active with her first production Mannem vuajnah (do you see me). She is also a dancer with Invisible People Contemporary Dance Company, where she first joined Liv Airas’ production Ájttega. Together with Liv she created the children’s performance Akti lij.

During Coastal Dance Festival, the duo will share an excerpt from Ájttega – the ancestors, a dance and joik production that invites the audience to  Sápmi. A performance based on the artists’ personal stories, Ájttega presents Sápmi’s culture in a new way, with respect for its history and tradition.

Thursday, April 21
Camilla Therese Karlsen

Camilla Therese Karlsen grew up in a place and time where it was a great shame to show or say that you are Sámi. Camilla herself is a part of the Sámi sea tribe. She saw her mother wear the traditional Gákti in public, stand up against the spitting, shame and hatred. Ever since then she has been inspired by her mother’s courage, and now creates performing arts productions with a focus on Sámi art, culture and political situation. In honour of her ancestors, in honour of her beautiful culture, Camilla is proud to be Sámi. Camilla is first of all an acrobat and aerialist, and she is also a trained dancer, DJ, poet and playwright.

Friday, April 22 and Sunday, April 24
Sara Marielle Gaup and Lawra Somby

Sara Marielle Gaup grew up in Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino (Northern Norway/Sápmi) and is a traditional and modern juoigi (yoiker/sámi singer), an artist and a mother who also works with sámi crafts (duodji). She has been a central profile on the music scene during the past 20 years and has been a full-time juoigi for over 17 years. She is most known for being the vocalist and composer in the internationally known music groups Adjágas and Arvvas. Sara Marielle also collaborates with several artists, musicians and filmmakers in short-term projects and does workshops and traditional luohti-concerts (yoik, only voice). Sara Marielle has an audiovisual art and music project together with her sister Risten Anine Gaup. They created OZAS as a continuance of their lifelong artistic collaboration, as a platform for their heart projects and cultural expressions, based on their shared values, passion and engagement.

Sara Marielle is an activist and has a decolonizing agenda with everything she does. As one of few, she wears gákti (sámi clothes) every day. Because of the colonization and christening of Sápmi that led to a severe decrease and almost disappearance of the sámi culture, Sara Marielle`s longstanding project has always been to preserve and revitalize traditional luohti (yoik) and to learn as much as she is able to from the elders and holders of sámi cultural knowledge in order to pass it on to the coming generations.