It’s Sunday morning in Iqaluit, overcast and it’d be an understatement if I said the weather was crisp. But you know, I really don’t care that it’s not a balmy 82 degrees. I’m ready to discover the Iqaluit on foot, as I head on the Road to Nowhere, with my new best friend, the loaner parka. (We met a lady last night at the circus, Janet, who graciously offered to lend me her daughter’s jacket.)
It’s funny. I just read an article about popular tourist attractions in Canada. It said that many compelling places in Canada don’t make any of the “best-of” lists, because they’re in remote locations, yet often, it's those locations that offer the most sense of discovery.
I would agree, wouldn't you? I keep finding myself asking the locals where the off-the-beaten-path gem experiences are in the cities we visit. Isn’t a memorable travel experience is about discovery? For me, it’s finding the “heartbeat” of the city, those pockets of arteries that display authenticity and raw emotion. And I think I discovered that last night at Artcirq.
Artcirq is a circus masterpiece that blends elements of circus acts with traditional pieces of Inuit culture: juggling, acrobatics, clown and music. Guillaume Ittukssarjuat Saladin is part of the cast and the Co-founder, Co-Artistic Director and trainer of the “organism.” He helped start the Artcirq project in 1998, while being at the National Circus School of Montreal.
Although the production stems from a darker place to remedy a local crisis, what really captivated me about the performance was the positive spiritual energy that permeated the room. Although rehearsed, there was almost sense of improvisation and innocence that I’ve never seen before. The throat-singers for example would entertain us, but then break into laughter, causing a ripple effect, making the audience laugh. I’m not sure if it was intentional, but it worked.
The physical collaboration of older performers with the younger generation was also spectacular. One act included a family of three strength balancers, one of them being a toddler. There were also several women in the act carrying their toddlers on their backs during the entire performance.
In particular, last night’s performance was special, as Productions Kalabante, an African-Quebecois circus troupe featuring Yamoussa Bangoura was also part of the act. The mix of cultures, colours and beats garnered a “standing-o” at the end of the show. More than anything what I took away from the performance was a strong sense of cultural pride and just genuine happiness.
See the live performance on Isuma TV and tell me what you think. What’s you favourite Big Top experience and why?