ALBERTA, British Columbia - Performing for the first time in Alberta, the
Gwa'wina Dance Group brought an exciting collaboration in traditional and
contemporary Aboriginal dance, music, singing and drumming to The Banff
Centre as part of the 2004 Banff Summer Arts Festival. They performed three
traditional dances and a short segment from a work-in-progress called
Kwakwaka'wakw Symphony of Dance.
The Gwa'wina, or Raven Dancers are from Alert Bay, a small island off the
northeast tip of Vancouver Island. They belong to the Kwakwaka'wakw or
Kwak'wala-speaking people, comprised of 15 tribes with traditional
territories that cover vast areas from Smith Inlet to Cape Mudge. The group
has been a professional dance performance company since 1999, and is made
up of members who have performed in major cities across North America,
Japan, Europe and New Zealand.
For the original contemporary dance work, the 15 members of Gwa'wina
collaborated with four contemporary dancers and choreographers Margo Kane
and Geraldine Manossa on melding traditional and modern choreography around
a new symphony based on a traditional Kwakwaka'wakw song called "Grease
Trail." The music was developed by William Wasden Jr., music director of
the Gwa'wina Dancers, and composer, arranger, pianist and music director J.
Members of the group, including composers, choreographers, regalia
designers and set designers have been working at The Banff Centre for about
a month, creating this new work and participating in a new series of
management and career development through the Centre's Aboriginal Arts
"We are very excited about the renewed approaches our program is taking
this summer," said Lou-Ann Neel, artistic director for Aboriginal Arts. "It
allows each participating artist to explore and experiment with entirely
new concepts in Aboriginal dance and music, and is also a great opportunity
to share more about the diversity Aboriginal cultures with the public."
For a complete schedule of Banff Summer Arts Festival events go to