Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Around the Arctic July 04, 2012 - 5:01 am

Iqaluit’s 2012 Alianait festival wins sell-out audiences

“Our box office is definitely up from last year”

DAVID MURPHY
Members of Kobo Town, a band formed in 2004, playing their Trinidad-by-way-of-Toronto calypso music, using percussion instruments, drums, bass, guitar, horns, cuatro and a flute. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Members of Kobo Town, a band formed in 2004, playing their Trinidad-by-way-of-Toronto calypso music, using percussion instruments, drums, bass, guitar, horns, cuatro and a flute. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Singer-songwriter Simon Lynge, originally from Greenland, performs during a World Tunes Jam at the Big Top Tent July 1. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Singer-songwriter Simon Lynge, originally from Greenland, performs during a World Tunes Jam at the Big Top Tent July 1. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Three members of Cirque Alfonse demonstrate their strength. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Three members of Cirque Alfonse demonstrate their strength. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)

It’s not unusual to see Heather Daley’s office light switched on late, every evening.

Daley, the executive director of the Alianait arts festival, has been in what she describes as “festival mode” for two weeks, working up to 18 hours a day.

“I know that I say it every year, but it was probably the best one yet. It really was, as far as all of the shows, the community reaction, the number of people who came out,” Daley said July 3, a day after festivities came to a close.

But in 10 minutes she gets two phone calls and a visit from a volunteer.

It’s evident that “festival mode” is still in full swing for her, even after the music’s stopped.

Despite the “madness,” however, Daley is glowing about how well the weekend went.

“All in all we were thrilled, and as far as the artistic side of things, some really wonderful things happened,” she said, adding how proud she was that the local Inuit bands collaborated with famed international acts.

“We closed the festival with this incredible collaboration that I put together,” said Daley. “All these young emerging artists had this incredible opportunity to work with and perform with the incredible artists. It was fantastic — it was really magical for all of them.”

Playing with big acts like Simon Lynge of Greenland, Ann Vriend from Vancouver, and Fernanda Cunha of Brazil would be an undeniable highlight in the young careers of many local artists, but it may not be the last.

Daley said music presenters representing different festivals and gigs were brought in from across the country, from Whitehorse to Ottawa, and were “blown away” by the artists.

“There’s going to be some bookings out of this,” said Daley, adding that she wants to bring the presenters back next year, and perhaps even international presenters as well.

The other highlight of the festival for her, and many others who gave her feedback, was the lumberjack themed circus production that dazzled a sold-out Nakasuk School gymnasium.

The show, Timber, featured a combination of ten cast members from Quebec’s Cirque Alfonse and Arctiq, the arctic circus based in Igloolik.

“Watching the faces on babies watching the circus show, and just being absolutely amazed — it was really special to see,” said Daley as her eyes light up.

Audience members watched the group flip, jump, dance, sing, and play a variety of instruments.

“I can’t believe they produced a circus production like that on a school stage. It was absolutely unbelievable,” Daley said.

Although Daley clearly enjoys the success of the 2012 festival, she’s already planning for next year, and she’s already set her sights on a few acts for the 2013 version.

Some have called for bigger, more mainstream acts at the festival — something Daley defends.

“You can’t get much bigger than Simon Lynge. He’s an international star, and Greenland’s first international star,” she said. “People may not have quite heard him yet, but believe me, people are going to hear about him.”

Overall Daley said in terms of money, it was a huge success. Three levels of government, many sponsors, and money earned from ticket sales funded the arts festival this year. What’s left over is put towards programming for next year.

“Our box office is definitely up from last year for sure,” she said. “All of our main stage shows were either sold out, if not close to sold out.”

“I hope the community loved it as much as we did.”

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