Artcirq Story

Summary and background of the “Artcirq - Arctic Circus” Mission

Summer 1998, Igloolik, Nunavut. Two teenagers commit suicide, once again shattering this small island community of 1500 residents. Every time a suicide occurs, feelings of despair and powerlessness resurface in this world where two cultures collide. In the Arctic, loss of sense and sorrow are real facts of life. Based on government statistics at the time, 4 to 6 young adults commit suicide every year in Igloolik, which represents a rate seven times higher than in Montreal.

Following the recurrence of such tragedies in Igloolik, some concrete actions are taken to give children and teenagers a medium to express themselves. The initiative of ISUMA Production (movie Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner) forms a group of eight young people, intended to prevent suicide in this small community. The organism Inuusiq, which means “Life” in Inuktitut, is created, and its first mission is to realize and produce, with the help of ISUMA production, a television series about the youth’s life in the Canadian Arctic of today. Guillaume Saladin is a member of this organism, “Inuusiq youth drama group”, and a co-writer and actor of the series. Furthermore, studying at the National Circus School of Montreal at that time, he implements the circus project Artcirq with six others students of the circus school, including Karine Delzors.

ARTCIRQ Chronology

1998. Creation of the project, with the financial support of the Cirque Éloize and Isuma Productions.

1999. During summer, the circus company stays for the first time in Igloolik. They present a show and deliver the first workshops for everyone. The members of the company also participate in a ten-day hunting camp with a group of 30 Inuk, with the intent to familiarize the Caucasians with camp life. The artists of circus then present are: Geneviève Pepin, Jan-Julien Bonzon, Yann Graal, Bartlomiej Soroczynski, Karine Delzors and Guillaume Saladin.

2000. During summer, same as the year before, but adding the presentation of two live performances as well as the shooting of the documentary film Artcirq. Two new artists of circus are present in the North that year: Guillaume Montels (now with the Cirque Plume) and Jade Morin.

2001. After four stays in Igloolik for the Artcirq company, a 52-minute documentary film is produced. Four shows are presented to the community, and the film Artcirq is presented, among others, to the film festival Terres en vues in Montreal.

2002. Three young artists of Igloolik travel to Montreal to take circus arts training courses, for more than three weeks, at the École de cirque de Verdun, Montreal, in collaboration with the Cirque Éloize. One new artist of circus is present: Patrick Léonard of the 7 Fingers.

The group Artcirq leaves for Igloolik to deliver circus workshops to the youth, in a “by and for” perspective. They also present a show to the Igloolik community, created by the young Inuit artists.

First circus workshops delivered by young Inuit to young Inuit, after the "whites" are gone back to the "South".

2003. Many Inuk dream of creating the first Inuit circus and going on tour! The non-Inuit members of the Artcirq group are also dedicated to this dream!

2004. Collaboration to the constitution of an Inuit rock band: "The Eskiez".

Collaboration to the creation of an inter-art show called “Kaujjagjjuk”, with more than 20 children and teenagers (juggling, acrobatics, throat singing, dance, music, etc.). Realization of a DVD about the show, watched locally in Igloolik.

2005. Writing of a fiction feature film about the life of youth in the Canadian Arctic of today. Shooting started in the end of 2005 and will continue until 2007. With the arrival of the coordinator Guillaume Saladin in Igloolik, circus and theatrical workshops resume for the community, as well as the holdings of rock concerts at the youth centre, etc…

_January. On January 16, 2006: Return of the Sun Celebrations, live webcast for a global audience of more than 200 persons. Motion pictures projection for the residents of Igloolik at the community centre. Beginning of the circus workshops open to all, once a week. Partnership with the Igloolik Hamlet for the use of the former public pool site as a creation and practice venue for some twenty young people, 6 days a week, 3 hours a day.

_March. On March 30, first live performance of the company, Oaraya, during the Baffin Regional Youth Committee (BRYC) week, before an audience of 400 people bringing together the 18 communities of the Baffin Island, followed by a workshop for the BRYC members.

_April. Production of the short film 407 and invitation of three Artcirq members to Dublin, Ireland, in residence at the Dublin Project Arts Center. Delivery of seminars, live performances, circus workshops and Inuit games, projection of short films produced by Artcirq. Plans to go in Europe again with the whole company in 2007… 

_May. Coming of Claude Schryer, from the Arts Canada Council, for the happening of Oaraya, premiered at the Igloolik community centre.

_June. Practices carried on at the former pool, and arrival of the Cirque Éloize head trainer Krzysztof Soroczynski, and clown Bartlomiej Soroczynski, for a three-week traineeship with the young artists. Live circus performance at the graduation ceremony for the Graduates 2006, and fishing trip organized by Artcirq.

_Historical First. On June 26, 2006, for the very first time in the Canadian Inuit history, three Inuit stand on top of each other (3 men high) on a pack!

_July. Arrival of Marjorie Nantel, contortionist, Antoine Carabinier-Lépine, acrobat, and Karine Delzors, flyer, for two to three-week stays in collaboration with the Cirque Éloize… Holding of many live performances and of a hunting and circus camp weekend, offering a nice blend of raw seal meat and trampoline… Preparation and set up of the first Artcirq tour in another community, Hall Beach, and transportation of the 25 participants by three boats. Presentation of Oaraya and delivery of a workshop, by the young people of Igloolik, for the young people of Hall Beach.

_August / September / October. Resumption of the circus workshops, research and creation by the Inuit actress Lucy Tulugarjuk at the Community Center three times a week. Editing of Bruce Haulli's short film by Kenneth Rasmussen, helped by Solomon Uyaraasuk, Some planning in order to welcome 10 Artcirq's members in Montreal, Quebec, at the end of October 2006, with the collaboration of Igloolik Isuma Productions, Cirque Éloize and First Air.

_Christmas 2006. First show done without Guillaume Saladin in Igloolik!

_January. Coming of DJ Wivi Alexis Bowles from Cirque Éloize. First live DJ in Igloolik, he animated a DJ night at the Igloolik Community Center. Return of the Sun Celebration live on the web with streaming camera and music. Creation and recording of music for ongoing film projects. Sunday music on the local radio.

Coming of Yamoussa Bangoura, an acrobat, African dancer and percussionist. Workshops of African dance and acrobatics. Three shows in Igloolik, with workshops in elementary school and high school. Live music on local radio. New recordings of music and shows. Fishing trip on Baffin Island.

_February. Artcirq takes part of the Indegenous Film Network (IFN) Tour. Terry Uyarak, Jacky Qrunnut, Solomon Uyarasuk and Bruce Haulli are travelling along with Isuma Productions folks to present The Journal of Knud Rasmussen in several Inuit communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Yukon and North-West Territories, as well as to perform as circus artists. Two short-films were presented, Artcirq and 407, and a show was presented in Iqualuit for a first time without Guillaume Saladin outside Igloolik!

_March. Coming of Felix Pharand D., anthropologist, science communicator and designer, in Igloolik. Graphical works, electronical tools, posters and brainstorming. Production of the short-film Maanna (now), which is about global warming and the way it may be perceived by an Inuk. Multimedia presentation on global warming for High School students.

_April. Coming of Karine Delzors in Igloolik aiming to create, along with Guillaume Saladin and Artcirq's artists, a show at the end of the month. She helps to prepare a tour: Iqaluit, Montrant and Povugnituq (Nunavik). Return in haste of Artcirq in Igloolik to present its show to the members of Global Warming 101 expedition.

_May_June. Prepartion for the Alianait Festival. Hunting trip on Baffin Island. Video productions.

_July. Participation during the opening ceremony of Alianait Festival in Iqaluit. Performance of our full show, Oaraya, with Bartlomiej Soroczynski as invited artist. 14 members of Artcirq were présent. It has been a huge success!

_August_September. Preparation for the event in Monterrey, Mexico.

_Octobre. Four members of Artcirq fly down to Monterrey, Mexcio, first trip out of Canada for them. They participate to a historical meeting with trois circus companies: Les 7 Doigts de la Main (Montreal), Cirko Dementes (Mexico) et Artcirq (Igloolik). Thanks to Qaggiq Theatre of Iqaluit for its financial contribution and its moral support.

Besides, Artcirq has given a one-week formation to 20 local artists: circus workshops, danse, theatre, music et video projections. Finally, 3 imporvised presentations were shown with the 3 companies at Feria del Libro, in partnership with UNESCO.

_October. Official invitation of Artcirq to the Festival au Désert of Timbuktu, in Mali, from 10 to 12 of January 2008!

On October 17, Lucy Tulugarjuk, Bruce Haulli and Kenneth Rasmussen were in Toronto to present Issaittuq at the Imagine Native Festival.

_November. Coming of Jessica Arpin, circus artist and adventurer. Worshops on juggling, yoga, circus show at the Community Hall.
Preparation of Shows on NITV and production of the first TV show on the local network - soon available on the Internet:

_December. Departure of Jessica Arpin, creation, production et realisation of a music demo, Artcirq, including 3 local bands et 2 international musicians. Circus workshop for Igloolik community, show at the Community Hall, recording of TV shows, NITV - soon available on

Production of two documentaries: Fibonacci Laboratory and Amazonia 2007. See Preparations for the trip in Timbuktu. Preparation fo the Christmas Show.

_January. Departure of 8 artists from Nunavut to Timbuktu, Mali, to present a short version of their show Oaraya. Amazing cultural exchange and thermal shock of over a hundred degrees. Artcirq had a chance to meet other African artists and to share music, stories and friendship. At the ending ceremony, Artcirq performed along with a sacred Dogon traditional percussion ensemble. It was the first time this ensemble opened their sacred music to other non-Dogon musicians. Timbuktu's Festival of the Desert was the reason for Artcirq to travel so far, but it opened possibilities to screen videos and to perform in Bamako's Centre Culturel Français. Street performances were offered to the public in different locations of Bamako during the screening of Attanarjuat, in collaboration with Cinéma Numérique Ambulant. Thank you to the Embassy of Canada for their logistic and human support throughout the whole trip.

_February. We came back safe and alive from Africa and started a Canadian tour: Beaumont, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Cambridge Bay.

_March. Creation and development of the new show, Oatiaroi (Wait), about global warming from an Inuit hunter point of view.

_April. After a few public performances in Igloolik, Artcirq fly to France with fourteen artists and a documentarist to attend the Inuit Festival of Annecy, in collaboration with Karine Delzors and Jessica Arpin.

_May. Creation and development of Oatiaroi in Igloolik and logistic preparation for the upcomming Fibonacci Project in Igloolik. Recording session in Montreal of the Artcirq music cd—Artcirq Jam—by dj Wivi (Alexis Bowles, Bécube Productions), Derek Aqqiaruq,Terry Uyarak and designed by Globaïa. Release 2008.

_June. Arrival of thirteen artists from Mexico and Montreal to create a unique performance that will tour in Nunavut, Montreal and Mexico. To make this historical cultural exchange happen, Artcirq leads a one-week hunting trip on Baffin Island, to give the southern artists the chance to feel the Arctic beat. After three free shows in Igloolik at the High School, the whole group - 29 members - open the Alianait Festival in Iqaluit for three sold-out representations. Premiere of Oatiaroi. In addition to this project, Igloolik Isuma Productions filmed the whole process and did the impossible by streaming live on the entire Alianait Festival! For the first time, the Arctic remoteness vanishes in one click. Fortified by this success, the Fibonacci troop gave workshops and performed in Kuujjuaq, including local youth in the show. Thank you Sylvia Cloutier.

_July. Oatiaroi is shown during the Quebec City's 400th Anniversary Celebrations. It was the opportunity to collaborate for the first time with AK Bangoura, brother of Artcirq's long-time collaborator Yamoussa Bangoura. This Inuit-African collaboration is full of promisses and opens on rich perspectives for both cultures. Ongoing meetings are discussing future projects to further developp this Inuit-African cultural exchange.

Beginning ot the Fibonacci residency in Montreal's Tohu and presentation of three acclaimed shows.

_August. After a year full of travels, challenges and rich cultural experiences, a holiday is most welcomed, even prescribed to all Artcirq members, to take time to feel themselves and look for more inside dreams.

_September. Development and shooting of a documentary, "Pitaqangituq" on global warming in the North, a partnership between Igloolik Isuma Productions, Artcirq, Globaïa and Cinic Films. You can watch the trailer at

_October-November. Yamoussa and AK Bangoura come to Igloolik to work with Artcirq. Two performances are given to the community at the Attagutaalukk High School. Music acrobatic and juggling workshops are given to the members.

_December. Artcirq is invited to present its videos and 4 performances at the Arctic Change 2008 in Quebec City. Standing ovation from the crowd, and many contacts are made for future performances around the world. Artcirq perform for the first time with Lucie Idlaut on stage. Amazing experience!

_January. Artcirq is moving its training area from the old swimming pool in the community hall of Igloolik, to the Kipsigak arena, in the curling lobby. At the same time, Artcirq, in collaboration with Igloolik Hockey Association, is opening a café at the Kipsigak Arena's cantina. Expresso, capuccino, café latté, hot chocolate and more are served by youth members of Artcirq.

_January-February. Artcirq is going to Mexico City and Veracruz to create the last Fibonacci project, along with Cirko Demente and 7 Fingers of the Hand, for a 4 weeks creation and 8 shows, all sold out, in partnership with Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian North, Ministry of Culture and Arts of Mexico, and the City of Mexico.

_March. Artcirq collaborate with Arnait video Group from Igloolik, in Mexico, to a tour a screening of the awarded movie "Before Tomorrow". Workshops, video screenings and performances are organized in 4 indigenous communities, in the Oaxaca region. The main theme for the exchange is mining development and indigenous issues, in both realities, North and South. A video is in production about this unique experience.

_March. Artcirq is invited by the Inukshuk Inuit Cultural Institue of Paris and by The Canadian Embassy of Paris, to represent Nunavut at the 10th celebration of the Nunavut territory. Six performances are presented there and one at the Ambassador house, along with Peter Irniq who is also invited by the Canadian embassy to build an Inukshuk in Paris. Karine Delzors, co-founder of Artcirq, is performing with the troop in France. Special guest artist: Celina Kalluk.

_April. Artcirq is welcoming the Compagnie K, a mask and percussion theater company from Paris, to Igloolik. Bruno Besnainou and Khagan, two of the co-founder, are collaborating with Artcirq in different workshops, and presenting 3 performances, at the Igloolik High School and the Community Call, reintroducing mask theater to local audience, and giving an amazing opportunity to the Artcirq members to play with mask. Huge success!

_April. Artcirq expedition: 21 people plus 3 babies are traveling by snow mobile, from Igloolik to Pond Inlet, to Clyde River, to present its show, and give workshops to local youth. During this 3 weeks trip, all of the Artcirq members learned a lot about their land, the way to live in small community, and to discover what the Baffin Island looks like on the east side. Memorable moment. Alexandre Domingue from Postmodern Productions, is filming along the way, as well as Artcirq crew. In collaboration with CLEY, Nunavut Film, Igloolik Isuma Production, Hamlet of Clyde River and Pond Inlet.

_May. Igloolik: restart of open workshops to local youth of Igloolik, in our new training area, development of new act, creation of music, and editing of the Artcirq expedition documentary.

Since the inception of Inuusiq in November 1998 and the first Arctic mission of Artcirq, Cirque Arctique in June 1999, many initiatives have emerged within the youth of Igloolik.

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