High Performance Highlights

High Performance Rodeo managing producer Erin O’Connor says she’s taken to referring to this year’s edition of the theatre and performing arts festival as a “real vintage-classic rodeo.”

“There’s a lot of smaller jewel-type events that are more intimate and in smaller houses” explains O’Connor. “We actually have more seats to sell this year — it’s not that there’s less programming it’s just a different way of going at it.”

One key difference between this instalment and past rodeos is in the marked absence of big-name artists-in-residence such as Laurie Anderson (last year) or Brian Eno (the year before that).

Which isn’t for want of trying — the Rodeo came oh-so-close to roping in Björk for this year’s residency but a one-two punch of scheduling conflicts and health issues (the singer ended up requiring throat surgery) put the kibosh on the engagement forcing O’Connor and crew to shore up their resources and return to their roots.

“We’re going back to our previous way of an incredible mix of artistic disciplines — dance theatre music comedy visual arts and everything — in smaller venues and more of them” says O’Connor.

And while Iceland’s most famous export might not be settling in for an extended stay in Calgary this go-round plenty of her fellow citizen-artists will be touching down here.

“On the global front Iceland is really hot right now — pardon the pun” says O’Connor. “And we’ve put together an Icelandic ‘Heatwave.’”

Besides Vesturport’s Metamorphosis (see story this page) participants in this component of the Rodeo include: visual artist Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir with Infra-Loop at Truck Gallery; a collaboration between Calgary and Reykjavík indie musicians called SonicWaves at the folk fest’s Festival Hall; and Icelandic-Canadian dancer Freya Björg Olfason’s performance of Avatar at the Big Secret Theatre.

Naturally there’s also a slew of performers arriving from other parts of the world most notably Belfast’s Ponydance which will be staging pop-up performances around town and Belgium’s Vanessa Van Durme who brings her one-person show about transsexual identity issues Look Mummy I’m Dancing to the Engineered Air Theatre.

As for Canadian content the Rodeo has scored quite the coup in hosting Daniel MacIvor’s return to the stage This is What Happens Next while Victoria’s Atomic Vaudeville promises to present a spectacle in Ride the Cyclone.

And of course local performers will have plenty of time in the spotlight too with shows from One Yellow Rabbit ( People You May Know ) Lunchbox Theatre ( Blanche: The Bittersweet Life of a Wild Prairie Dame ) and Alberta Ballet ( Up Close ) among many others.

“You’re going to see something of really excellent quality and something slightly outrageous challenging interesting and that will make your brain itch” says O’Connor. “There’s going to be a lot of conversation starters.”

For more shows and info visit .