Let’s get one thing straight, the High Performance Rodeo has nothing, and I mean nothing, to do with an actual rodeo. There are no cowboys, there are no chuck wagon races and most importantly, there are no (sadly) mini-donuts.

If you’re okay with all of that have nothing to do with High Performance Rodeo, then let’s get to the really good stuff.

High Performance Rodeo is Calgary’s international festival of the arts and every year it takes over the city for an entire month, filling almost every art space with music, comedy, theatre, dance, media and any other kind of art form you can think of. I’ll be honest, the first time I went to a show, the feeling was really no different than the first time I went to a rave. The whole room has this intense energy that you want to enjoy, but normal theatre conventions has taught you to resist. Well, once you work past that feeling and let the strange, wild and craziness of the festival wash over you, you’ll learn to love High Performance Rodeo, just like the thousands of people before you.

So, we’re coming up on the half way point of the festival and if you haven’t been yet, fret not. There’s still a ton to see.

Here are some of my picks:

danceAnybody Waitin? Don’t worry about trying to find this show, this Irish-based comedy dance theatre company will find you. Throughout the week, until January 19th, these dancers will show up in unexpected spaces through the downtown core. With the winter weather continuing this week, it might be good to warm up with a few good laughs and more than enough sweet dance moves.

PEOPLEPeople you May Know is one of those “weird” shows that you’ll likely only ever see at the High Performance Rodeo. The comedy about a financial scheme gone wrong, uses digital effects and basic photo software, combined with live actors in a wonderfully busy show that results in what’s being called a “digital puppet chorus.” I could try to explain it better…actually I can’t, but that’s the fun of People You May Know.

blanche_web_c_w460h306Blanche: The Bittersweet Life of a Wild Prairie Dame. This show is a Lunchbox Theatre production, which if you’re not aware, is a fantastic way to enjoy live theatre on your lunch break or a busy night. Clocking in at just over an hour, you’ll have time to see the show, before your boss even noticed that you’re gone. This show garnered amazing reviews in New York and is now in Calgary until January 26th. The show explores the life and stories of Blanche, who survived the Great Depression, World War II and tragic lost love. Combining poignant stories with beautiful music, it’s a great way to get away from the office and see a once in a life time show.

Mike Morrison

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