Audition Alert – Winter Games Opening Ceremonies

Dance Auditions for 2018 Wood Buffalo Alberta Winter Games!
From February 16 – 19, 2018 close to 3000 athletes, coaches and officials will visit the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo to compete for 8 different regional zones in 22 sporting events. As such, the 2018 Alberta Winter Games is hosting auditions for the Opening Ceremonies. Details are provided in the attached image.
The Wood Buffalo Alberta Winter Games committee are seeking dancers to perform during the opening ceremony. Auditions take place on October 22, 2017 from 1-3pm at St. Anne School, 101 Brett Drive, Fort McMurray. Ages 8+, with minimum 2 year experience, are encouraged to apply!
To register for auditions email:
Dancer poster (Final Final Final) (2)

Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards nominations


Arts Council Wood Buffalo (ACWB) is pleased to announce the launch of the Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards. This is an annual program that recognizes and celebrates excellence in various areas of the arts and builds awareness of the incredible contribution artists make to the region. Artists, arts educators, arts administrators, students, and other creative individuals can be nominated in 12 categories spanning a variety of disciplines. Nominations will be accepted August 16 – September 16, 2016.


“The Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards is an important opportunity to recognize the achievements of those organizations and individuals who champion the arts in our region,” says Constance Scarlett, ACWB Executive Director. “Often our artists are recognized outside of our community, and the Arts Council really wanted to provide an opportunity to showcase the best of our arts sector within Wood Buffalo.”


Starting August 16, nominations are open in the areas of Arts Administration, Arts Education, Creative Collaboration, Traditional Aboriginal Arts, Fine Craft, Media Arts, Music, Dance, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Literary Arts. The program also includes a category for artistic youth, aptly called Rising Star. Artists can nominate themselves, or have someone nominate them.


The Arts Awards, aka “The Buffys”, will be handed out during a showcase event on October 22, 2016. The focus of this event is to celebrate the achievements of our local artists through high energy, poignant performances that highlight all that our vibrant arts community has to offer. The theme for this year’s awards showcase is “The Midnight Circus”, which promises to provide a breathtaking back drop for the evening’s entertainment. Scarlett says that “the Arts Showcase is an important piece of this program. It not only provides a paid opportunity for local artists, but it gives the wider community the opportunity to see some of region’s top artists right here in Fort McMurray.” Tickets will be available for the public to come enjoy a night of entertainment and support the arts. “The Board of Directors was determined to make the event accessible to as many residents of Wood Buffalo as possible, which is why tickets are being sold for only $25,” states Scarlett. “This vision of a high-caliber local arts event for the entire community is only possible because of the tremendous support of our sponsors” she says, a group that includes Suncor, Don Scott McMurray Law Office, McMurray Métis, Balsom Communications, and Birdsong Connections.


The Wood Buffalo Excellence in Arts Awards invests in the future of our growing arts community. The recognition received by each award winner will raise their profile, build their portfolio, and allow them to compete and thrive as an artists within our community and beyond the borders of Wood Buffalo. Nomination application guidelines and forms can be found at

Wood Buffalo young artists at the Arctic Winter Games Day 6

March 11

Today Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn went on an incredible tour of the National Theatre of Greenland (NTG).

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Fast Facts about NTG

  • Director is Makka Kleist
  • Hosts 5 shows a year
  • Space used to be a hardware store – includes costume storage, props storage, and a backstage area with green room and dressing rooms
  • Black box design (a simple, somewhat unadorned performance space)
  • Theatre opened in 2011, the school started in 2012

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The NTG school currently enrolls 5 students for a 2 year program. New students are auditioning as the current class is graduating. The school is working on expanding the program to 3 years and a goal of 7 students. Currently, graduating students receive a certification using the European credit system. Students must be over 18, very mature, and independent. The theatre program is very strict – each day of class begins with a rigorous 1.5 hour long voice and physical warm up. If a student has 3 unexcused absences, they are dismissed from the program.

Greenlandic culture, language, and history are the main focuses of the program. Students have special teachers to help expand their understanding of the Greenlandic language. Equally important is dramaturgy – the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage. Students also learn how to tell their own personal stories through Greenlandic theatrical forms, some of which go back thousands of years.

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Classes are taught by local and outside artists. Topics include: presence, staying in the moment, voice and speech, movement, scene work (how to analyze a script, learn lines, build your character and relationship), the inner critic (how to make it help you, not hinder you), traditional Inuit mask dance, European clowning, Stanislavsky method, radio plays, camera acting. Students also present an annual Christmas family show. This is their first public performance, and it is a shared experience with established professional actors.

The NTG is currently in rehearsals for The Rez Sisters by Thompson Highway. This is a Canadian script which is being translated into Greenlandic for this performance.

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In the evening Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn attended the closing ceremonies and fireworks. The president of the games announced the 2018 Arctic Winter Games will be happening in the Northwest Territories. Popular local Greenlandic band “Small Time Giants” performed the AWG theme song “We are the Arctic” which the whole crowd (participants, coaches, locals, VIPs) sang along to with pride.

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One of the best parts of the closing ceremonies was seeing the mosaic of contingent uniforms. For the opening ceremonies each contingent walked together in all matching outfits; but come closing ceremonies so much trading of clothing items had occurred almost every person had a hodge-podge of items from a variety of contingents. It really spoke volumes to the collaborative and supportive nature of the games.

After the closing ceremonies everyone walked down to the Old Harbour for a spectacular fire works show!



Wood Buffalo young artists at the Arctic Winter Games Day 5

March 10

Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn had the pleasure of participating in a traditional Greenlandic custom called “Kaffemas” which translates to ‘coffee meeting.’ This is where visitors come into locals’ homes and they share cake, coffee, tea, and stories. The hosts also perform for the guests and the guests perform for the hosts. The group went to a local foster home where the children put on a play for us. They were also treated to a presentation by a visiting string quartet made up of older foster children from all over Greenland. This program has been integral in giving these children the skills and confidence to rise from their unfortunate beginnings and have successful and balanced adult lives. It was a incredibly touching experience.

Akshaya received the Fair Play award from Team Alaska and Team Greenland gave the Fair Play award to all 3 members of the Team Alberta North cultural contingent.

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The artists had their final gala performance. Once again the participants performed to a sold out audience of almost 500 people. The official Arctic Winter Games website says the show elegantly united the modern and traditional, the past and future, youth and experience in an abundance of cultural capacity. “We got good insights as to how our cultures are connected and yet different. We got to see something new and something old put together in a modern and very exciting show. Most of all we experienced young performers being a part contemporary globalized times standing on a solid basis of Arctic culture. To me that is very life-affirming and it gives a lot of hope for the future” says Maliina Abelsen, General Manager of Arctic Winter Games 2016.

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You can see the Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn’s performance during the Arctic Winter Games 2016 Gala here. Their performance starts around the 3:00 mark.

After the performance, every cultural contingent participant was given a special medallion made from melted down found bullet casings and old coins discovered by Greenlandic hunters. The medallions are in the shape of a drum and are very unique. All the cultural group managers received a medallion as well.

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You can see the second half of the Gala and the medallion ceremony here: The presentation of the cultural contingent participant medallions starts around the 35:00 mark.


Wood Buffalo young artists at the Arctic Winter Games Day 4

March 9

Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn are at the half-way point!

Mat received a “Fair Play” award from the Sápmi Region cultural contingent. The participants in the cultural contingent of each group get to give one award to one individual from another cultural group. ACWB Program Manager Michelle Thorne says Mat has been incredibly supportive to the Sápmi group – he helped them with their broken keyboard at the mall performance, for example – so the group decided that they wanted to give their award to him. “To say I am proud would be an understatement! What incredible ambassadors we have taken with us from our community,” says Thorne.

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Tonight was the first night of the VIP Gala, held at the National Theatre of Greenland. “The house was PACKED and the energy was amazing,” says Thorne. Team Alberta North started the show with a bang and received thunderous applause from the audience. At the end they received a hearty well deserved standing ovation. After the celebration, the lobby was alive with spectators and media jumping at the chance to interview the participants and take their photographs. The most amazing part was all the participants congratulating and complimenting each other on their work. So many hugs, so many kind supportive words shared.

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Thorne is beyond impressed with Mat, Akshaya, and Camyrn: “This group of kids is seriously the most wonderful group I could imagine. Not only are they mega-talented super stars but such warm inviting friendly supportive caring considerate human beings. I could not be more proud.”



Wood Buffalo young artists at the Arctic Winter Games Day 3

March 8

Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn had the first of their performances at the Games today. This public show took place at the Nuuk Centre and included the cultural contingents from Nunavut and the Sapmi People, in addition to Alberta North. Check out the video from CBC North! The young artists also shared their experiences through an interview with CBC North.

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Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn also participated in a workshop about traditional Inuit dancing. The session was led by a woman named Tiffany who grew up in Nuuk but now lives in the Northwest Territories. All the cultural groups learned a specific dance and will join together to perform it collaboratively at the VIP galas on March 9 and 10.

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The artists had another technical rehearsal at the National Theatre of Greenland. The design for the backdrop on the stage was inspired by the inside of an igloo.

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Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn spent the rest of the day exploring Nuuk and checking out some of the sporting events.

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Wood Buffalo young artists at the Arctic Winter Games Day 1 & 2

The Wood Buffalo young artists representing the cultural contingent of Team Alberta North arrived in Greenland on March 6. Lengthy flight delays due to weather meant that some of the teams missed attending the opening ceremonies, however airport staff were very generous to the stranded participants – they moved seating around so that everyone could watch the live feed comfortably and they even opened up one of their offices and set up a television for additional space.


Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn joined the other cultural contingent participants in a traditional Inuit mask dance workshop in the morning. Mask dance is the oldest form of theatre for the Inuit. It is a stylized way of telling stories that has evolved over thousands of years. The purpose of the black and red makeup is to make yourself as unrecognizable as possible; the makeup is the mask. Sometimes mask dancers put sticks in their mouths or tie their noses flat to their faces to completely change the natural shape of the face. Women dancers will take on male attributes and men dancers take on female attributes. Three emotions are represented as characters in the mask dance: the clown (the entertainer), the sexual being (who pokes fun at sexuality and pushes boundaries and comfort levels), and fear (to teach about how to not let it paralyze you). The major lesson of the mask dance is to show how if we don’t know how to understand and deal with these emotions, they will destroy us. The artists learned that the mask dance must not be performed without an audience, and that mask dance performers must be vulnerable, push past their inner critic, and most importantly have fun.

Mat, Akshaya, and Camryn also had their first technical rehearsal today!






Youth Artists Create Original Performance To Represent Alberta In Greenland

Camryn Hannigan, Akshaya Lakshmi, and Mat Coté are about to go on a trip of a lifetime. The three young artists are travelling to the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland as the cultural contingent of Team Alberta North. This means that they will represent Alberta from a cultural and artistic perspective at the Games, which take place March 5-12. Guided by Arts Council Wood Buffalo Program Manager Michelle Thorne, Hannigan, Lakshmi, and Coté have created an original multi-disciplinary performance for the Games called “The Creation of the World,” based on an Inuit legend about the raven, which combines dance, music, and storytelling.

According to the host society, cultural exchange and social interaction are important parts of the Games, so each participating country or region contributes performances in dance, song, music, plays or art. The cultural events reflect the traditional as well as the modern cultures of the Arctic. “Arts Council Wood Buffalo was invited to participate in this opportunity because of a referral from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts,” says Executive Director Constance Scarlett. “This was really exciting for the Arts Council because it demonstrated that when people think about strong arts communities in northern Alberta, they think of Wood Buffalo. This can be attributed to our incredible local artists as well as the work the Arts Council has been doing to raise the profile of our arts community over the past two years.” With her extensive experience mentoring young performers through mentorship programs, ACWB Program Manager Michelle Thorne was selected to act as the Artistic Director and chaperone for the group. “The opportunity to travel to remote parts of our world and showcase the diverse artistic talent of our home is incredible enough as is, but to present and share this opportunity with three passionate and hardworking emerging artists is really what makes this experience special,” says Thorne.

The three young artists layered their individual art forms together to create a one-of-a-kind collective theatrical experience. Speech artist Camryn Hannigan uses her powerful and engaging voice to narrate the words of the story, while fusion dancer Akshaya Lakshmi performs intricate and thoughtful choreography to express the moods and actions, supporting the vocal component with movement. Mat Coté’s skilled guitar playing adds a contemporary dynamic to this piece as well as underscores the actions and moods of the story. Scarlett says that “Team Alberta North has been a great partner on this project and has really helped foster a culture of creativity. They have also shown a great amount of courage in their support of our artistic vision. This is the first time that the Alberta North cultural contingent is being represented by a multidisciplinary team of artists performing an original piece created by the artists involved. There was a bit of risk involved with taking this approach, but Team Alberta North was just as excited by what our chosen artists could create as we were.” For Thorne, the most important part of the rehearsal process was collaboration: “Watching the performers work together, listen, and share has been truly inspiring; [their] initiative and work ethic has clearly paid off in the professionalism and integrity of the piece.”

Hannigan, Lakshmi, and Coté will perform their piece alongside contributions from Alaska, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Quebec, the Sápmi Region, Russia, and Greenland to hundreds of locals and visitors at a special public showcase as well as two VIP Gala events. The group will also attend workshops led by multi-disciplinary performance artists from a variety of countries across the Northern hemisphere, as well as attend a special guided tour of The National Theatre of Greenland.

Arctic Winter Games official website

Miss Kelli in Partnership with The Centre of Hope presents HIP HOP FOR SOCKS!


WHO: YOU, Your friends, Brothers, Sisters, Mom & Dad, Aunts & Uncles, Kids, Neighbours even Nan & Pop!

WHAT: A giant Hip Hop dance class with a purpose! Only requirement to participate…positive attitude, a desire to give back and most important a Pair or two 🙂 of new socks!

WHERE: Shell Place Grand Ball Room BC – Use the East Entrance to enter facility On the second level

WHEN: Sunday December 6th, 2015 Doors @ 2:00pm
Class @ 2:30 – 3:30pm

WHY: To raise awareness for the Homeless, did you know a homeless person can walk up to 30 miles a day? not something you may think of often… now imagine doing that with no socks on during one of our famous Fort McMurray winters. A small donation of a pair of new clean socks can make a huge difference in the lives of those in need.


For more information please go to



Artist Wellness banner


November 21-22, 2015

10 am to 5 pm

Designed for performance artists looking to cultivate a deeper relationship with themselves, enhance their craft, and connect with their peers in the artistic community.

Artists will learn wellness tools, including breath and focus exercises, which they can confidently use in their own artistic practice.

Limited space, register at

$120 non-members

$100 ACWB members