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Spirit of Slahal

The Children of Takaya merge traditional movements with modern technology
Creative Director Kattie Coolidge with additional film work by Nancy Bleck and Sebnem Ozpeta


Creative director Kattie Coolidge presents this short film centred around the Coast Salish peoples. Merging traditional movements with modern technology, the film features eleven members of the Children of Takaya group performing the work Spirit of Slahal.

Spirit of Slahal begins with a male voice explaining the rules involved in the ancient game of “Slahal”, a method of gambling that in some traditions was offered as an alternative to warfare. The film shows dancers and drummers in traditional clothing silhouetted against projected images of natural landscapes. The filmed rocks and trees drift across the performers’ faces, distorting them into what looks like digital noise. Dancers are seen hopping and spinning across the floor, leather moccasins gliding on smooth concrete, as they interpret moves meant to taunt and distract while drums beat and wooden beads jangle.

The film sees the Children of Takaya existing in a space between the artificial, the captured and reimagined natural world, and the reality that is their live bodies expressing movements steeped in history and ritual. Founded by Chief Dan George in the 1950s, the Children of Takaya includes generations of family members who share rich traditions of song and dance. Created through the Festival of Recorded Movement’s Commissioning Fund, Coolidge’s film of Children of Takaya exists in partnership with Cineworks and Company 605


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