Capstan: What a Circus!

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EcoMaris is dedicating the whole month of October to its flagship program Capstan. It's a great way to end a season that was rich in encounters.

This year again, Cirque Hors Piste is adding its magic touch to one of the last two expeditions of the season, creating a unique artistic odyssey. But how did the unlikely alliance between EcoMaris and the Cirque come about? 

Cirque Hors Piste is an organization dedicated to social circus. It offers an alternative and inclusive space to marginalized youth. Like EcoMaris, it promotes individual and collective learning through direct action, which quickly caught our eye.

By offering our boat, we knew we could help youth dive into their potential and strengthen their social skills, such as their senses of solidarity and accomplishment. We were right: our collaboration with Cirque Hors Piste has now been in full bloom for three years. In addition to a special counsellor, the organization invites an instructor on board, responsible for teaching participants and keeping them safe.

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When recruiting participants for Capstan’s circus editions, Cirque Hors Piste gives priority to its members. But one does not need to be a member of the organization to take part in a circus edition. All profiles are welcome - from the curious to the connoisseur.

Unlike regular Capstans, during which our crew offers daily workshops on navigation, circus editions provide more room for artistic experimentation. While participants contribute to maneuvers and tasks involved in life at sea, they also have the time and equipment to explore circus arts, or to perfect skills they already possess in that field. To avoid any sort of performance anxiety, no circus show is organized at the end of expeditions. But it's not unusual to witness improvised performances which ‘transform’ the boat in various ways: the bowsprit becomes a trapeze stand, sailing boots become gumboot dance shoes, etc.

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As early as 2021, Cirque Hors Piste’s Intervention Coordinator Marilou Vinet could see the impact of circus within Capstan: "Mixing sailing and social circus has created a vector for knowledge, while reinforcing a sense of equity and community between participants - as well as with the crew. Shared moments of creation and artistic expression have helped forge unique bonds, nurture relationships and energize everyone involved.” The core values of social circus and the creation of a safe space on board have allowed participants to ‘reveal’ their creative and vulnerable selves. Many have felt empowered in their art and able to inspire others. Some have even discovered a passion for sailing.

EcoMaris’ Director of Social Strategy Mariano Lopez adds that "the creativity of the circus brings energy to every corner of the boat, right down to the engine room! We're so happy with this collaboration, which mixes fields that aren't so different after all. We surely hope it continues!"

Our partnership with Cirque Hors Piste is clearly a success: a powerful creative adventure that will undoubtedly last. Cirque Hors Piste is not the only social circus organization with whom we work: last year, we collaborated with Quebec City's Centre Jacques-Cartier as part of their Cirque du Monde initiative. It’s further proof that circus and sailing go hand in hand!

Stay tuned for more circus editions of Capstan by filling out the program registration form.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you never miss an opportunity to climb aboard our ships!

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