“Edginess” and “intrigue” go hand-in-hand when it comes to High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts.
The Rodeo, celebrating its 27th year, runs until Feb. 3 and features local, national, and international arts productions – including theatre, comedy and dance.
“During The Rodeo, we intentionally go out and look for what is the hottest, what is the best, and what is the zeitgeist of the times,” executive director and managing producer Erin O’Connor explained in an interview.
“People can be guaranteed nothing but excellence, in terms of the quality of the production, and something really interesting and engaging.”
The Up Close production by Alberta Ballet, featuring choreographers Yukichi Hattori, Alexandrous Ballard and Denise Clarke, exemplifies the extra “kick” audiences will get from The Rodeo’s unique lineup.
The production, staged at the Martha Cohen Theatre, has the audience no more than 40 feet from the stage – literally “up close and personal” with the dancers. This contrasts from traditional ballet, where the audience is usually separated from the stage by the orchestra pit.
“It’s visceral dance,” said O’Connor.
“You’re going to be able to see their bodies moving, see every muscle, see the sweat flying off them, and experience the depth of passion that the dancers are experiencing in the moment.”
There’s also a twist on how the dancers perform. In p.s. I love you by Denise Clarke, dancers were asked to become actors.
“Usually we have a character, but this is very much based on our acting of emotion,” explained Alberta Ballet dancer Emily Nicholson.
“It’s challenging, something for us to step out of the box for, but as dancers that’s such a cool way to grow.”
While surprising and entertaining audiences, The Rodeo reflects Calgary’s entrepreneurial and maverick spirit, O’Connor said.
“Calgary is a hotbed of creative minds.”