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High Performance Rodeo

Calgaryism arts and culture guide Fiona Row

Author Fiona Row

Calgarians! Check out the High Performance Rodeo, on now until Feb. 3. The Calgaryism Arts & Culture Guide brings you reviews and recommendations for Calgary’s international festival of the arts.

Have you seen any HPR shows yet? What did you think? What are you excited about seeing?

High Performance Rodeo (Jan 3-Feb 3)

  • Event type: Performing arts (theatre, dance, comedy)
  • Beret rating: 4 out of 5
  • Great for: A date (these performances are great conversation starters)
  • Location: Variety of downtown venues
  • Cost: $35/ticket to most shows
  • On a budget: Limited free performances

Guide to the ratings

The event to see in January

The High Performance Rodeo is perhaps one of Calgary’s best publicized arts events. I won’t typically be writing about events that are already so well promoted, but the High Performance Rodeo (HPR) is, quite simply, the event to see in Calgary for the month of January.

Running for an entire month, the HPR brings together local, national and international performers hoping to fill your social calendar with theatre, dance, comedy and music.

Although there are a variety of performances, I’m giving the HPR a pretty high beret rating because in general the performances tend to be rich with metaphor, ripe with literary reference and, well, weird. In a good way!

Options for the less adventurous

If you’re looking for more accessible events, or you’re bringing a date and you’re not sure what they can handle, I recommend Anybody Waitin (until Jan. 18, various locations), Wine Stage (Jan. 26, Devonian Gardens) and the ProArts @ Noon series (every Wednesday at noon, Cathedral Church of the Redeemer).


High Performance Rodeo

Anybody Waitin? Photo courtesy of the High Performance Rodeo.

Pricing and the best way to enjoy

The price tag is reasonable. Most tickets are $35 and general admission seating. There are a few assigned seating shows that cost up to $60. This year I bought the Must See package which includes four of the pricier shows for $160.

This particular subscription is no longer available but if you’re trying to get out more I really recommend purchasing tickets in packs or subscriptions. You’ll save a little money on the price of each ticket, but more importantly, you’ll go to more events and be less concerned with the value of each.

I cringed a little when the money left my wallet but now that I’m committed, I’ve got performances and the company of close friends to look forward to all month!


 To be honest, in past years I haven’t always found that the value of HPR performances justified the relatively high ticket price (as compared to other experimental theatre performances). However, last week, I saw Metamorphosis, which was brilliant in every way – the interpretation of Kafka’s literary work, the set design, direction, acting and music were all incredible.

Calgary arts and culture High Performance Rodeo.

Metamorphosis. Photo courtesy of the High Performance Rodeo.

To show the distortion of one of the characters who had transformed into a hideous vermin, they designed a perspective-skewing set that made one of the three rooms appear to be viewed from above. When the actor appeared to be lying crumpled on his bed (which was vertical), he was actually hanging from the bedpost in a fetal position. It was so seamless that you’d forget that your perspective was skewed until another character entered the room.

The effect was wonderfully jarring and worth every penny of the $40 that I paid through the package. Of course, one thing you’ll learn about me, dear readers, is that I’m incredibly cheap! Forty bucks is about as much as I’ll pay for anything other than a Cirque du Soleil ticket, but maybe it’s not so much to you!

In the past, there has been slightly more of a free, public component to this festival. This year, although you can catch some flash-mob style performances by Ponydance at a variety of venues, the HPR’s main free offering is the ProArts@Noon series. ProArts puts on a 12pm show at Cathedral Church of the Redeemer every Wednesday of the year however, so I’m not sure you can properly consider it a free component of this festival. Definitely worth attending though! In fact, I might post about it soon!

Up Close This Weekend

Arts and culture in Calgary Up Close at the high performance rodeo

Up Close. Photo courtesy of the High Performance Rodeo.

I’m really excited to see Alberta Ballet’s Up Close this weekend. It looks gorgeous! I hope to see you there. Leave your comments to let other Calgaryism fans know what you’ve seen and what you thought of it. The festival runs for three more weekends and has a huge variety of shows for every taste, so go out there and enjoy a great performance!

For tickets and information visit

Your artsy fartsy friend,


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