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Kalabante School and Artcirq

Submitted by on October 21, 2010 – 12:08 pm One Comment

What could a group of Inuit teenagers possibly have in common with impoverished children of Guinea, West Africa? As it turns out, people from all corners of the world all love the circus.

Cirque Eloise acrobats Yamoussa Bangoura and Guillaume Saladin traveled to Guinea, West Africa and Igloolik, Nunavut to start their own acrobatics programs. Bangoura founded Kalabante and Saladin founded Artcirq, and they discovered that their respective communities were facing similar problems. Guinea and Igloolik have drug abuse and trafficking problems, and both are struggling with poverty and lack of education among its young people.

While Kalabante and Artcirq both teach circus and acrobatic skills, they have somewhat different missions. For example, Kalabante serves as a school as well as a performance arts group. Bangoura explains, “In Guinea, it is very difficult. Many children don’t read. I have friends in my own circus company who don’t read. You have to find a way to approach them to go to school, otherwise they wind up on the street, doing bad things. But so many kids in Guinea, they like music, they like circus. So I tell them, ‘Okay, you can do that, but you have to learn, too.’”

In Igloolik, they have primary and high schools. The problem is getting young people to imagine that they could go on to college and higher paying jobs. An Igloolik teacher says that when she asked her students what they wanted to be when they grew up, the boys said they wanted to be truck drivers and the girls wanted to be cashiers. The youth do not have hope for a better life, and every year, 4 to 6 young adults in Igloolik take their own lives. Artcirq inspires the kids to dream bigger for themselves, push themselves physically and mentally, and learn how to collaborate to put together an acrobatic routine.

Already, Kalabante and Artcirq are starting to see the fruits of their labor. Artcirq performed at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and Kalabante have been featured on the Pulitzer Center’s website. In their biggest venture yet, this November Kalabante will visit Artcirq in Igloolik and then Artcirq will visit Kalabante in Guinea. Together, they will put together a new show combining both of their groups, and along the way, they will be filming a documentary about their experiences. You can watch a video of the founders of Kalabante and Artcirq talking about their cross-cultural trip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU2UmPs5dTU&feature=player_embedded.

To learn more about the film and Artcirq, go to http://www.artcirqthefilm.com/, and read more about Kalabante at http://pulitzercenter.org/blog/untold-stories/guinea-education.

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