Mark Tewksbury on stage in Belong
Join Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury for Belong | Photo: David Kotsibie

High Performance Rodeo

Calgary’s international festival of the arts heats up January once again

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Location Various Venues 
  • Price Prices Vary
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Full of surprising shows and audience favourites, a new year can only mean one thing—the High Performance Rodeo is back and ready to take you on one wild ride.

With a diverse and provocative lineup, there’s something for everyone on the schedule of Calgary’s international festival of the arts. This festival is always a cultural highlight—it’s produced by One Yellow Rabbit and presented in co-operation with many of Calgary’s major arts organizations.

The Rodeo is one of the best ways to resist the urge to hibernate post-holiday and includes some of the best performances from around the world, powerful Indigenous voices, and celebrated local artists.

“For 34 years, the High Performance Rodeo has set its sights on creating exceptional experiences for adventurous audiences. This year’s line-up is thrilling—a mix of bombastic international talent and local artists set free to present their wildest creations for hometown audiences like never before,” says Festival Producer, Laurel Green in a statement. “We’re beyond excited to be partnering with local companies and producers again this year to amplify their creative work whenever possible, especially considering what incredible response we got from Calgary audiences last season. You may think you’ve seen it all, but we promise you, you haven’t.”

So, what are we most looking forward to seeing? Here are our not-to-be-missed picks of the 2020 Rodeo:

The Land, The Animals

January 8 – 18, 2020
Big Secret Theatre, Arts Commons (2nd Floor, 225 8th Ave. SE)
$15 – $40

From the creative force that brought you last year’s High Performance Rodeo smash-hit, Live Your Prime, with Damien Frost, comes an elegant comedy like no other. Combining comedy and contemporary dance, the production places three scientists into a city of the future to investigate the final moments of a troubled geologist. Don’t miss One Yellow Rabbit’s offering featuring Denise Clarke, Andy Curtis, and Christopher Hunt alongside original music by David Rhymer.


January 9 – 11, 2020
DJD Dance Centre (111 12th Ave. SE)
$20 – $40

Don’t miss the Calgary premiere of this unique performance by hometown Olympic hero, inspirational leader, and world-renowned social justice activist, Mark Tewksbury. A riveting exploration of what it means to belong, don’t miss this staged reading co-presented with Wordfest.

10 Minute Play Festival

January 11, 2020, 8:00pm
The Grand (608 1st St. SW)

Now celebrating 20 provocative, unexpected, and hilarious years, this perennial favourite sure to sell out, yet again. But then again, that’s what happens when Calgary’s rowdiest theatre artists create 10-minutes plays in just 24 hours.

Juliet & Romeo

January 16 – 26, 2020
DJD Dance Centre (111 12th Ave. SE)
$34 – $69

A limited run following a cross-Canada tour, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks remounts its 2017 hit that re-imagines the famous story about two star-crossed lovers. With live music and dance in true DJD style, audiences are sure to delight in the twists and turns of this passionate and tragic tale.


January 21 – 25, 2020
Motel Theatre, Arts Commons (2nd Floor, 225 8th Ave. SE)
$15 – $40

Comedian and certified insane person JD Derbyshire turns the audience into a mental health review board to help determine their current state of sanity. Don’t miss the irreverent fun of Derbyshire’s hilarious and heart-aching journey through the mental health system.

Queer Blind Date

January 21 – 26, 2020
The Studio at Vertigo Theatre (161, 115 9th Ave. SE)
$15 – $40

Celebrating the particulars of queer courtship and romance, don’t miss this fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fusion of improvisation, theatre, and clown. In this re-imagined version of Rebecca Northan’s smash-hit play, the saucy Mimi, and the handsome Mathieu, take turns finding love with a different person each night—plucked right from the audience.

How to Fail as a Popstar

January 22 – 25, 2020
Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons (234 9th Ave. SE)
$15 – $40

Illuminating, raw, honest and hopeful, this debut theatrical work chronicles Vivek Shraya’s journey to “not quite” pop music super stardom. A reflection on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and self-determination, this astonishing performance is a triumph in finding one’s authentic self.

One Yellow Rabbit’s 34th Annual High Performance Rodeo runs January 8 to 26, 2020. Head to for a full list of events, tickets, and to download a digital festival guide.

On a budget? There are always good deals to be found at the Rodeo and this year is no exception. With the return of $15 Wednesdays, you can scoop up the best seats in the house to some of the hottest shows for just $15. There are even free and pay-what-you-can events for you to check out.