Cirqiniq: The decolonising of Social Circus in Nunavik
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
Taylor & Francis
Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)
This writing sets out to explore the Social Circus program in Nunavik in the Arctic in Far North Canada which in various forms has now been running for nearly twenty years. The initial program begun by Cirque du Soleil in 2002 had little uptake by the Inuit. There was a lack of community support and very sporadic attendance by the Inuit young people and after five years it was discontinued. The Social Circus program now known as Cirqiniq developed out of this initial program. Its success can be gauged by the fact that every year young Inuit vote in a poll as to whether it should continue or not. The program now has the support to ensure it continues each year. This article asks questions about what it was that changed in order to cause this turnabout? What was it that changed to cause the involvement of young Inuit and Inuit communities? Did the approaches to training change? Did structural changes occur? The authors, two of whom have worked with Cirqiniq, set out to answer these questions. A series of interviews undertaken with Inuit and Qallunaat (non-Inuit) involved in the program, along with research undertaken in response to these interviews, revealed a process of structural and cultural decolonisation of the Social Circus program which the authors point to as the key component in the program’s current success.