Traditional Inuit stories meet contemporary circus in Unikkaaqtuat

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Unikkaaqtuat | Artcirq, The 7 Fingers and Taqqut Productions | DanceHouse and The Cultch | Vancouver Playhouse | January 22 – 25, 2020

Welcome to the north. Contemporary circus meets traditional Inuit stories in this beautiful, immersive celebration of culture and ritual.

A young boy wiles away the time in hospital by listening to a cassette of his grandma, an Inuit Elder, telling the Inuit founding myths. As he is transported into the stories, we’re immersed in his imagination, seeing the stories interpreted through acrobatic feats, stunning video projections (by Neil Christopher) and Inuktitut voiceover.

One of the stories says that in the beginning there was only darkness and that day and night were formed by a conflict between the raven and the rabbit, eventually they settled into a yin/yang relationship that gave us the balance between night and day that we have now.

The cast of acrobats from Montreal’s The 7 Fingers and Inuit artists from Artcirq and Taqqut Productions (Igloolik and Iqualuit) were unified and strong in their delivery of impressive acts including aerial silks, contortion, aerial rope, and trampoline. In between these marvellous were stunning Inuit elements including throat singing, drumming, and a scene with a realistic polar bear. The unique blend of meaningful storytelling, ancestral knowledge, and acrobatic skills made for a production that was both awe-inspiring and profound.

I loved hearing the stories told in Inuktitut — something the artists said they fought for when describing the process during the post-show talkback. I hope this is the beginning of more partnerships such as this to fuse traditional Inuit culture and modern artistic practices in a multidisciplinary production.

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