Ten years ago, an Iqaluit audience gasped as performers from a little-known circus troupe from Igloolik, Nunavut, danced up and down bedsheets strung from the ceiling of the gym in Aqsarniit Middle School.
A decade later, Artcirq has become a fixture of the Alianait Arts Festival, which draws artists from across the country and the world.
This year, Artcirq was back with a new production that tells the story of two brothers who become lost on the ice and unexpectedly cross over into the land of the spirits.
The troupe also held workshops teaching circus skills to other young people, like Teeresa Qiatsuk.
“It's a good experience. It's fun. You learn new things and it's awesome,” Qiatsuk says.
“It’s exciting to teach these students the moves we know of and it's fun to share,” says performer Reena Qulitalik.
Festival director Heather Daley says Alianait has come a long way and is achieving much of what it set out to do: entertain the city and provide opportunities for local performers.
“For Nunavut artists, they're getting a chance to perform with some absolutely amazing world class artists and their level of performance is just going up and up,” she says.
“I've got a couple of artistic directors here from other festivals that are pretty blown away by what they're seeing. It's really exciting.”
Renowned children’s entertainer Fred Penner was also on the schedule this year. On top of performing, he hosted a gospel sing-along that morphed into an impromptu collaboration.
The festival continues today, wrapping up with a Canada Day concert July 1.