Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trickster 2010

The Trickster Project is a brilliant thing. Put together under the auspices of the Calgary International Children's Festival, it consists of a superb collection of professional entertainers who (in this specific case) spend a week at the school on the Eden Valley First Nations Reserve, about an hour or so south-west of Calgary in an idyllic spot. That's this photo - the instructors in front of the school.

They shut the school down for a week - no lessons at all - and we move in. The kids spend four days learning juggling, tightwire, unicycling, stiltwalking, magic, clowning, balancing, hip hop dancing and aerial work (hoop and swinging trapeze), and on the fifth day they put on a choreographed show in front of the entire community in the school gymnasium. This is the second consecutive year we've done Trickster at this location so most of the kids are building on skills they started with last year. Quite remarkable progress in some cases.

I decided to go bigger this year, and introduced escapology to my groups. By the end of the week I had a handful of the older kids doing a wonderful thumb-tie + mail-bag escape in only seconds. The thumb-ties we used were standard black plastic cable ties; while one student ties another's thumbs together I handed out a couple to the audience to examine. Best moment of the week: one of the fathers decided to test the cable-tie himself while watching the show. After our act he sheepishly came up to me with his thumbs firmly cinched together; it took us five minutes to find a pair of side-cutters to free him with.

At least it proved they were real.

As I happen to live in a small town only 30 minutes from the reserve (unlike most of the other instructors who are from elsewhere in Alberta, and in some cases Toronto and Vancouver as well), on Halloween night I saw a handful of 'my' kids come to my door trick-or-treating.

In fact, some of them came back twice.

I like to think it was because they like me.

But it was probably the extra candy.


  1. Heehee, the poor dad; I bet his kid or kids still won't let him live it down. :D

  2. Hey Malcolm,

    Love your commentary on the Trickster Project and I love that you were part of this awesome experience. Keep on creating the magic!

    Kate Newby
    Calgary Int'l Children's Festival