Quebec Academy of Displacement Art: fully appropriating urban space

If the premises of the Académie québécoise d’art du displacement are located at 88 rue Saint-Jean, most of its activities take place outside, in this huge playground that Québec City can be. We met Jessica Cormier, General Manager, and Martin Pelletier, Coach, to talk about the academy’s activities and a very active way of taking ownership of the city.

The academy’s activities center around the art of exorcism, practiced by the yamakasi (from lingala ya makási (“strong”, by extension “strong spirit”), which involves traversing the city in an acrobatic fashion while promoting a set of values , such as mutual aid, sharing, respect and persistence.

The four founders of the Académie québécoise d’art du displacement, Kevin Dugal, Jonathan St-Pierre, Nicolas St-Pierre and Vincent Thibault, met for a jam in Montreal. They noted that the Parkour community was strong, but that followers regularly injured themselves and that the culture was not necessarily in line with the values ​​promoted by the yamak spirit. It is with the desire to make good practice known, to get moving, to have fun and this for as long as possible (even a lifetime!), they went together and trained in Europe with yamakasi before opening the Quebec Academy eleven years ago. They have been located in the premises on rue Saint-Jean since 2014.

Avoid the urban environment

“We are outdoors a lot, we use street furniture,” says Martin Pelletier, who clarifies that the activities only take place indoors when the climate becomes too harsh. Concretely, course-workshops have four phases: a warm-up, a physical training (“core training”, without a machine), learning techniques to overcome obstacles and finally a play phase with the obstacles. Everything takes place in an approach similar to that found in martial arts, where respect for others and the environment prevails, and where training and rigorous preparation of the body are of primary importance.

There are plenty of places to exercise in the city centre. We can thus meet the displacement artists in Lucien-Borne Park, in the forecourt of the church, in the installations of the marina Saint-Roch and many other places that we will let you discover. If the activity can sometimes suffer from a negative image and arouse a certain reluctance, it should be noted that the art of movement does not harm street furniture. Yamaks must ensure that the environment is safe, keep the environment clean and unbroken, and be aware of their surroundings so as not to harm passersby.

Who can become a yamak?

The art of displacement is a playful urban dance that is aimed at anyone who wants to develop movement in the city. You can start activities within the Academy from the age of 8, with no age limit. There are also no groups by levels; we adapt and the key word is mutual help. “We start together, we finish together. Those who have finished must encourage the next, those who are still making an effort”, explains Martin Pelletier, who clarifies that he is in favor of mutual help rather than achievements.

The approach to the children is playful and aims to make them discover their limits, channel their energy, make them work on their concentration and coordination. Like young people and adults, where we seek to develop more specifically the values ​​and the duration of the activity over time. “At the moment we have a great diversity of participants,” says Martin Pelletier. “We talk to anyone who is ready to make an effort and get involved”. No need to be strong or to have a good cardio assured us the leaders (in light of our poor physical shape), we will make sure to bring you to the level.

Teaching never stops and takes place all year round. Registration is à la carte or session by session (click here to read more). And if you want to discover the art of travel, know that an activity is planned for Saturday 17 September: Move your city takes place at Marina Saint-Roch and that it is also intended for beginners, provided they are over 16 years of age. Three guest instructors (Stéphane Provencher, owner and head trainer of Drummond parkour and president of Parkour Québec, Pascal Lecurieux, former head trainer at The Spot Montreal and owner of the company Parkour Bits – Montreal Parkour Training and Alan Jean-Baptiste, graduate trainer in acrobatic sports and physical preparation since 2012) will each offer three workshops during the day. Entries are limited in number, include a t-shirt and, above all, a lot of fun in perspective.

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