Git Hayetsk: The Lives Behind the Dance

Meet the members of the Git Hayetsk dance group and find out why they dance By Tahmina Anika
Git Hayetsk: The Lives Behind the DanceGit Hayetsk: The Lives Behind the Dance / Produced by Mique’l Dangeli & Natalie Dobbin
Git Hayetsk: The Lives Behind the Dance / Produced by Mique’l Dangeli & Natalie Dobbin


Dance, as an art form, is more than just performance. Acknowledging and celebrating that dance is able to create a supportive community for people, Mique’l Dangeli and journalist Natalie Dobbin produced the short film Git Hayetsk: The Lives Behind the Dance. The film is centred around the Indigenous dance group Git Hayetsk, led by Dangeli, a Tsimshian art historian and curator, and her husband Mike Dangeli, a Nisga’a artist and carver. The film is aimed at bringing to light the unique experiences of the members of the dance group and their physical, emotional, and spiritual journey within the community. Some individuals have been able to reconnect to their roots and revive parts of their identity by practicing the songs, passed down orally through generations, and dances of their ancestors. Others have found that their participation is a means to overcome the challenges faced in everyday life. 

Git Hayetsk means the people of the copper shield in the Sm’algyax language. These dancers are bonded by common ancestry to the Sm’algyax-speaking peoples, with distinctions in their family ties to the Haida, Haisla, Tahltan, Tlingit, Lil’wat, and Musqueam Nations, whose home villages and ancestral lands are located in southeast Alaska, Vancouver, BC, and along the coastline of the Terrace-Prince Rupert area, including the Nass and Skeena rivers.

Vancouver-based and internationally renowned, Git Hayetsk focuses on communicating their rich historical traditions through magnificent mask-dances, as well as creating new choreographies to reflect and record the spirit of Indigenous people in the present day. Founded in 1999, Git Hayetsk have shared their songs and dances at ceremonial and public events in urban and rural communities throughout Canada, the U.S., Austria, Malaysia, Germany, and Japan.

Git Hayetsk is one of the highlights at the 10th annual Coastal First Nations Dance Festival (CFNDF), which marks 50 years of Indigenous dance revitalization. Dancers of Damelahamid, in partnership with the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia (UBC), have invited artists from the northwest coast to Newfoundland and around the Pacific Rim to showcase diverse cultural traditions. Running from February 28th to March 5th, 2017, audiences will encounter traditional and contemporary Indigenous artistry through performances, enhanced educational offerings and youth programming, as well as ceremonies to open and close the festival at the MOA’s Great Hall.


To learn more about the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival, visit the listing on The Dance Current website here.

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