Alianait roars into gear

It's a sell-out show


Starting with an inaugural concert held to mark National Aboriginal Day on June 21, the Alianait Music Festival roared into gear this week as it moves towards the Canada Day weekend.

"It's amazing that there is so much talent in the city," Elisapee Sheutiapik, the mayor of Iqaluit, said before a sold-out crowd gathered at Aqsarniit Middle School for the opening concert.

That event, which left the audience dancing in the aisles and shouting for more, featured an wide collection of talent from Nunavut and the circumpolar world.

Igloolik's Artcirq troupe began the show with a multi-media performance that combined acrobatics, mime, drum-dancing, throat-singing, electronic music and lighting.

Guillaume Ittusarjuak Saladin, a graduate of Montreal's L'ecole nationale de cirque, helped start the group about eight years ago as a suicide prevention project, after spending a summer in Igloolik conducting a youth drama workshop at the Tarriaksuk Video Centre.

Saladin, who spent the first 16 years of his life in Igoolik, began training a group of Igloolik youth in circus skills, in co-operation with Cirque Eloize of Montreal and group called Clowns Without Borders.

Now, Artcirq has blossomed into a confident, talented company capable of putting on stunning shows like the two-hour performance they held June 26 at Aqsarniit.

Artcirq was followed on June 21 by drum dancing performances put on by Matthew Nuqinaq of Iqaluit and Jeff Tabvatah of Arviat, and a multi-media mime performance by a group led by Celina Kalluk.

Throughout the evening, Laakkuluk Williamson and Laila Hansen, disguised as masked Greenlandic sorcerer-women, amused the audience and provoked shrieks of delight from children as they stalked through the aisles.

Saami performers Berit Oskal and Ann-Mari Andersen of Kautokeino, Norway continued the festival's circumpolar theme with a performance of vocal stylings that combine traditional Saami joik music with Western pop music.

Traditional Saami joiks, like Inuit pisiit, are unaccompanied songs about a subject that has inspired the performer. But many contemporary Saami musicians now combine the joik style with electric keyboards and guitars.

"This is a song about how we should treat each other good as people," Bert Oskal said while introducing their closing number.

Iqaluit residents saved their loudest cheers for Feat, a five-man hip-hop group from Nuuk whose beats shook the building to its core as audience members clapped, waved their hands and danced in front of their seats.

This weekend, Iqaluit residents can look forward to a concert June 30 at Aqsarniit that will feature Pamyua of Alaska, Diego Marulanda and Pacandé of Toronto, Juan Sebastien Larobina of Quebec, and the Cambridge Bay Drum Dancers.

And on July 1, Alianait and the Iqaluit Music Society will organize an outdoor music concert in front of Nakasuk School that afternoon.

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