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Photos courtesy High Performance Rodeo

High Performance Rodeo continues to push boundaries in third decade

By Gurman Sahota, January 24 2018 —

High Performance Rodeo (HPR), a Calgary festival staple, returned in January for its 33rd year with another round of tremendous music, dance and performance. Featuring work from Calgary artists, some of the best touring companies from across the country and creatives around the world, HPR is presenting 25 shows in 16 venues across downtown Calgary.

Producer Laurel Green, says the rodeo has a reputation as a cutting edge leader, allowing host venues and participating theatre companies to experiment during the festival as well.

“The rodeo has a reputation now, at 33 years old, of being a little bit wild, being a little bit risky, having an audience that’s really curious and really passionate. It means that our partner companies can cut loose a little too and include something in their season that’s a little bit different,” she said

What keeps the festival fresh is its ever-evolving nature and the continued inclusion of voices.

“[HPR has] always been very progressive in terms of being inclusive of new voices for fostering works of emerging artists, for bringing in seminal work by great masters in their craft,” Green says. “Also being on the forefront of Indigenous work, of queer work, of work by LGBTQ+, trans artists, really always offering a really wide representation of self-expression.”

This comes with the building of the artistic community with inclusivity at its helm. Building on community, HPR continues to work alongside artists and companies to bring audiences face-to-face with exceptional experiences that are unique to Calgarians.

“[These performances] continue to evolve as artists today are pushing new boundaries and offering new definitions of themselves,” says Green.

A point of pride for HPR is its continued dialogue with Indigenous communities in Treaty 7 territory, including three Indigenous works this year — Bug, God’s Lake and Café Daughter. Green says that deepening the connections with Indigenous communities has allowed HPR to work with community elders in encouraging elders and members of the community to support the works.

Alongside these performances, another notable show was Broken Tailbone by Carmen Aguirre. A CBC Goodreads winner with her book Something Fierce, Aguirre spoke of her unique upbringing as a child of Chilean revolutionaries all within a salsa lesson. Green says that you wouldn’t have to be a dancer to enjoy the show, “It’s kind of undeniable the energy that will be in that room.”

High Performance Rodeo runs from Jan. 9–27.

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