Guillaume Saladin left his career as a professional acrobat to help young Inuits in northern Canada form Artcirq, their own performing troupe.
By Linda Matchan
He chose Igloolik, arriving on Halloween 2005 with his suitcases and juggling pins. He knew immediately he’d made the right choice. “Everyone was costumed and masked and playing around ... craziness everywhere around town,” says Saladin, whose accented English reveals his French Canadian heritage. “Very similar to circus.”
Then he turned his attention to Artcirq, the Arctic circus he’d helped launch seven years earlier. Artcirq is a unique artistic hybrid, a collective of young performers who blend techniques of modern circus with elements of Inuit culture, such as throat singing, music, drum dancing, and juggling. In a short time it’s gone from amateurs balancing shakily on homemade teeterboards to proficient jugglers and acrobats who balance atop each other’s shoulders, perform aggressive back flips, and somersault while leaping through hoops.
In February, six members of Artcirq will represent Nunavut at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, part of a 14-member ensemble of Canadian Arctic performers.
The circus is credited with bringing hope and pride to many dispirited young people.
For more on related subjects, see Native Plays and Other Stage Shows.
Below: "Guillaume Saladin (l.) practices a juggling routine with Terry Uyarak in Iqaluit, Nunavut, a Canadian federal territory. Mr. Saladin stayed in Nunavut as a child, with his anthropologist father." (Michele McDonald)