Arts Seen – week of Feb 20 2014

All-ages magic fest and an adult circus

The second WowFest Magic Arts Festival got underway on Family Day and will run until March 1 at Motel in the Epcor Centre presenting a variety of magic shows and events. The festival offers plenty of all-ages entertainment such as the Family Fun Magic Show which features a rotating cast of local magicians and will run several times throughout the festival. But magic isn’t just for kids — A Brush with Death a “macabre magic show” targeted at fans of horror movies is among the adult fare in the mix of more than a dozen shows in the lineup ( wowfestmagic.com ).

Apparently the circus isn’t just for kids either especially when it’s focusing on the “carnival underbelly.” Le Cirque de la Nuit’s Àrñiko event (the third in its series) invites people to unleash their inner circus freak and witness outrageous performances — from aerial acrobatics to contortion to belly dancing — along with music from JK Soul Mr. B Isis Graham and Deanne Matley among others. The party is sold out but there will be limited tickets at the door when it takes place Saturday February 22 starting at 9 p.m. at Vinyl and Hyde ( cirquenuit.com ).

The third annual Underground Comedy Railroad Tour ( undergroundcomedyrailroad.com ) which features black comedians touring the country in honour of Black History Month will arrive in Calgary on Sunday February 23 for a show at The Laugh Shop Comedy Club (Hotel Blackfoot). The local stop features: Gilson Lubin who has appeared on HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Comedy Jam Comedy Central’s Premium Blend The Comedy Network’s Comedy Now and the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal; Rodney Ramsey a Montreal-based comedian who has been featured on CBC’s The Debaters and This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Super Channel’s 24 Hour Rental ; and Andrew Searles who was named in the “Top 10 Best Stand-up Comedians in Montreal” four years in a row by the now-defunct Montreal Mirror and has been featured on XM Satellite Radio’s Laugh Attack NBC’s Last Comic Standing and iChannel’s No Kidding .

New York-based contemporary dance troupe Ailey II returns to Alberta Ballet for a trio of performances this week ( albertaballet.com ). Led by artistic director Troy Powell — the second person to lead Ailey II since its creation in 1974 — the company combines young dance talent with emerging choreographers. For this Canadian tour 12 dancers will perform four different pieces from the company’s repertoire including The External Knot We Rusty and Revelations (pictured) from February 20 to 22 at the Jubilee.

Theatre Calgary artistic director Dennis Garnhum is currently directing Major Barbara a collaboration with American Conservatory Theater of San Francisco that earned primarily good reviews when it ran in that city earlier this year. George Bernard Shaw’s intellectual comedy about the conflict between a young woman who is dedicated to helping others as a major for the Salvation Army and her father who has made his fortune as an arms manufacturer runs until March 9 at the Max Bell Theatre ( theatrecalgary.com ).

The University of Calgary’s School of Creative and Performing Arts is presenting William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure this week giving the dark comedy a couple of twists that include a gender swap and a futuristic aesthetic ( scpa.ucalgary.ca ). The play runs until March 1 at the University Theatre and you can read more about the production on page 14.