The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) is bringing an eclectic mix of drama, music and dance to Inuvik this season.

NACC executive and artistic director Marie Coderre said it will be an opportunity for residents to discover the best of Northern talent and be introduced to new voices arriving in town for the first time.

Ko K’e Spoken Word & Music Festival is up first, playing at the Midnight Sun Complex September 26 at 7 p.m. The Inuvik edition of the festival will feature musicians Digawolf and Cliff Cardinal.

Digawolf, a critically acclaimed rock performer who sings in Tlicho and English, will be visiting Inuvik on Sept. 26.
Photo by Angela Gzowski / Photo courtesy of the Northern Arts & Cultural Centre

Digawolf released the record Yellowstone in February. He sings in English and Tlicho, and his signature growling guitar stylings have led to international performances and several music award nominations.

“I want the residents from Inuvik to discover his talent,” Coderre said.

Cliff Cardinal will also appear at the festival. As a poet and artist, he’ll bring a mix of storytelling and music, according to Coderre.

Cardinal is  “getting more and more attention across Canada,” she said, adding that catching his performance will be an exciting opportunity for a community looking for new creative voices.

“What I want is for people to discover our Northern talent and also Indigenous talent.”

Opera singer Kofi Hayford will host a Christmas performance combining gospel and classical music at the Igloo Church on December 2. William Hicks, who has played piano for Pavarotti, will accompany him.

On a trip to New York, Coderre attended a New Year’s party with some of the city’s rising opera stars. That’s where she met Hayford.

“I was blown away by his voice. His talent is absolutely outstanding,” she said. “Beyond good.”

They kept in touch and she eventually asked him to create a Christmas show that mixed classical and gospel for performance in the North.

“Because it’s a Christmas and gospel and classical concert, I have no doubt it will be well-attended,” she said.

That said, promotion on the ground will make all the difference when supporting the arts this season, she said. While advertising on social media is important, it’s up to community volunteers to help get the word out.

Community support is vital for bringing in new acts and talent. One of the performances Coderre is excited to introduce is Rite, a flamenco show that blends dancing and music.

Seeing the show left Coderre completely “blown away.”

“It’s not a typical way of presenting a flamenco show. It’s very modern, refined too,” she said.

For one, the costumes are different from their traditional counterparts. The layout and setup are also departures, making the show a clean-break that retains the art form’s traditional roots.

With the addition of singing and spoken word elements describing the development of each piece, she called the show “poetic” and “transcending.”

It’ll stop at the Midnight Sun Complex on February 20.

Finally, Pawakan Macbeth is at the Midnight Sun Complex on April 7.

The show adapts the Shakespeare classic to a Cree context set in the 1870s, weaving the original text, modern English and Cree into an innovative performance envisioned by artist Reneltta Arluk.

It’s a huge performance, drawing on a large cast and production team. For Coderre, “money, money, money” was the challenge bringing the $90,000 show north. The artist fees, travel, cargo and sound all add up.

However, “it’s a story that’s absolutely relevant,” she said.

“In a time of reconciliation and decolonization, one of the aspects we want to bring up in the performing arts is definitely reclaiming these stories, which can only be done by Indigenous people who’ve lived this experience,” she said.

Local students will also have an opportunity to learn from the artists and production team stopping through town. “If they cannot come in the evening, it’s very important to me that they have this exposure,” she said. “Not only to see the talent but to really realize, I can do that, me too.”

For youth, it’s an opportunity to be inspired.

“I can be an actor, I can be a musician, I can be a sound tech, I can be a graphic designer, I can be an artistic director, I can be whatever in the world of performing arts,” she said.

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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