Learning and performing Haida song and dance are important to Robert because all art forms in the Haida culture are interconnected. Through his music and dance projects, he explores the traditional Haida performing arts and participates in the evolution of these forms through his contemporary works.
Along with his wife Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and other veteran Haida Singers, he is a founding member of The Haida Gwaii Singers. He also founded the Rainbow Creek Dancers with his brother Reg Davidson.
HAIDA GWAII SINGERS
In the year 2000, five longstanding singers of Haida songs formed The Haida Gwaii Singers Society with the goal of educating Haida people and the general public about, and in the rich musical traditions of the Haida. The founding members were Reg Davidson, Robert Davidson, Guujaaw, Marianne Jones and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson.
“Learning to sing Haida songs helped me to connect with ceremony, which gave me another level of understanding of Art. Songs are gifts of saa7laanaa (Higher Power) to connect the very core of our being," says Davidson.
“We are now singing our traditional songs, which have been handed down to us through the generations. There are only a few songs that have survived, but there are enough to set a standard from which we can compose new songs, as our forefathers did,” he notes.
“The Haida Gwaii Singers grew up hearing Haida songs sung by the “Holders of Songs” in their homes and at informal gatherings. The group’s goal has been to reinvigorate Haida songs and protocol, perpetuating the continued use and existence of traditional and contemporary songs. “Today, as in the past, Haida culture, songs and ceremonies continue to transform and evolve so that they can remain relevant to Haida people. The Haida Gwaii Singers Society celebrates and sustains the Songs of Haida Gwaii for this and future generations.”
RAINBOW CREEK DANCERS
During the renaissance of Haida culture, formal dance groups were formed in the early 1970’s. Inspired by some of these first dance groups, brothers Robert and Reg Davidson formed the tuul gundlas cyaal xaada, Rainbow Creek Dancers, in 1980.
Most of the songs and dances were taught to Robert and Reg by their grandmother, Florence Edenshaw Davidson.
Robert and Reg began creating beautiful masks and ceremonial objects for their dance performances and with the creativity of other group members, the beauty of the art and the innovation of the Rainbow Creek Dancers became an inspiration to other dance groups each time Rainbow Creek Dancers returned to participate in ceremonies in Haida Gwaii.
“The objective of Rainbow Creek is to bring meaning back to the songs and dances of our ancestors, performing them as they were taught to us by our elders. Following along the path of our ancestors, we strive to continually grow and connect with ceremonies that are relevant today to all people. To do so, we create new songs and dances, building upon the cultural foundation of our ancestors, and drawing upon our collective cultural, ceremonial and professional stage experiences.”
Rainbow Creek Dancers derives its name from a creek that runs behind the village of Massett, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). The creek only runs in the winter, the ceremonial season and traditional time of the year for songs and dances to be revealed.
Rainbow Creek Dancers remains together today, performing in Haida Gwaii and throughout the world.