A Preview of Calgary's 2017-18 Arts Season

These are some of the highlights in dance, theatre, visual arts and music this season.


With so many cultural productions vying for finite amounts of your time and money, it can be hard to separate the must-sees from the moderately entertaining. We’ve taken the liberty of picking some of the highlights for the 2017-18 season so you can stop cross-referencing arts calendars and just enjoy your outing.




36th Annual Alberta Dance Festival: Dancing Home

photograph by citrus photography

The Alberta Dance Festival has been presenting original works for more than three decades.

The theme of this year’s Alberta Dance Festival, “dancing home,” draws inspiration from Canada 150 celebrations, with 12 choreographed performances, each based on a work by a Governor General Award-winning Canadian literary or visual artist. Look for dances inspired by artist Wanda Koop, photographer Edward Burtynsky and poet Lorna Crozier. The performance pieces will also feature musical scores by 10 Calgary-area composers.

Sept. 7 to 9, The Pumphouse Theatre, 2140 Pumphouse Ave. S.W., dswlive.ca


The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires

Alberta Ballet will open its 51st season in flames as it hosts the Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires. The Argentinian dance company will perform tango to its own band, orquesta tipica, in a show that is meant to evoke the mood of a late night out in Buenos Aires.

Sept. 21 to 23, Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, 403-245-4549, albertaballet.com




The Last Wife

illustration by micaela dawn

Alberta Theatre Projects' The Last Wife.

King Henry VIII, famous for marrying six wives, meets his match in this political thriller focusing on his final spouse, Catherine Parr. The first in playwright Kate Hennig’s The Queenmaker Trilogy, The Last Wife’s incarnation of Parr is that of a clever, competent woman who dances around her husband’s tempers to forge a path for herself. Alberta Theatre Projects’ staging features a familiar face — Lorne Cardinal, the actor known for playing Davis Quinton in Corner Gas, as King Henry VIII.

Sept. 12 to 30, Arts Commons,  atplive.com


The SantaLand Diaries

Lunchbox Theatre gives David Sedaris fans a real treat with this clever one-man show. The Santaland Diaries, based off the essay of the same name that propelled Sedaris into the public sphere after he first read it on National Public Radio (NPR), follows the author’s brief stint as Crumpet, an elf at Macy’s in New York during the Christmas season, and the tribulations of being an adult in elf’s clothing. Starring Devon Dubnyk as David.

Nov. 27 to Dec. 23, 160 9 Ave. S.E., lunchboxtheatre.com



While Vertigo Theatre’s mystery productions are known for putting you on the edge of your seat, this play will pull one lucky theatregoer out of theirs and up on stage to help solve a murder most foul. Directed by Rebecca Northan, known for plucking participants from audiences on previous productions including Blind Date and Legend Has It, this world premiere is a novel twist on the company’s bread-and-butter whodunit productions.

Jan. 13 to Feb.11, 115 9 Ave. S.E., vertigotheatre.com


Visual Arts


Le Rêve aux Loups

"Le Rêve aux Loups."

The Esker Foundation contemporary art gallery, Calgary’s largest privately funded, non-commercial gallery, works through a number of educational and accessible programs to engage the community with the artwork it displays. Starting this month, Esker showcases the work of Mary Anne Barkhouse, a Vancouver artist belonging to the Nimpkish band of Kwakiutl First Nation. In her new exhibit, “Le Rêve aux Loups” (or “The Dream of Wolves”), Barkhouse situates her work between the natural animal inhabitants of the land and the flamboyant, regal interiors of Louis XIV France with traditional sculptural materials.

Sept. 16 to Dec. 22, Esker gallery, 444, 1011 9 Ave. S.E., 403-930-2490, eskerfoundation.com


Beakerhead Exhibit

Herringer Kiss highlights the work of recent and former Alberta College of Art + Design graduates and young artists on a local and national scale, creating a great opportunity for Calgarians to view the work of emerging artists. In September, the gallery will showcase an exhibition in conjunction with the Beakerhead arts and science festival, as well as a series of paintings by Calgary artist Curtis Cutshaw of deconstructed images on individual birchwood tiles.

Sept. 7 to Oct. 7, 709 11 Ave SW, 403-228-4889, herringerkissgallery.com


Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries

image courtesy of the glenbow museum

Sun and Earth is part of a showcase of work by Group of Seven paniter Lawren Harris (1885-1970), on display this October at the Glenbow.

As the most prominent and well-resourced member of Calgary’s visual arts scene, expectations are always high for the Glenbow’s fall lineup. This October, the museum will present “Higher States,” a showcase of Group of Seven member Lawren Harris’s more abstract work that sought “the spiritual in art,” alongside works by contemporaries such as Georgia O’Keefe and Raymond Jonson. The Glenbow will also display The Black Gold Tapestry, a 220-foot hand-embroidered illustrative work by Sandra Sawatzky about oil’s impact on human civilization.

Oct. 7 to Jan. 7, Glenbow Museum, 403-268-4110, glenbow.org




Piaf! The Show

photograph by G. Marsalla

Piaf! The Show

Generations of French singers have come and gone but Edith Piaf reigns as chanteuse par excellence. Piaf! The Show brings the talents of Anne Carrere, a dead ringer (vocally) for the “La Vie en Rose” singer, to the fore, as she recounts the life of the Swallow of Montmartre through her well-loved catalogue. This is quite possibly the closest you’ll get to seeing Piaf herself on stage — an opportunity not to be missed.

Oct. 4, Arts Commons, artscommons.ca, piaf-theshow.com


True North

In honour of Canada’s sesquicentennial, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra is putting on the True North Festival, a celebration of all things Canada. Taking place in October and November, the lineup features acts including Corb Lund, Fred Penner and others, but the highlight is sure to be the performance of True North, a commissioned collaboration between five composers from across the country, accompanied by dancers choreographed by former Alberta Ballet principal dancer Yukichi Hattori. Be sure to catch The Road to True North the day before, an in-depth discussion with the composers and a documentary on the creation of this ambitious work.

Oct. 28, Arts Commons, calgaryphil.com


The Barber of Seville

photograph by trudie lee photography

The Barber of Seville.

This will be the first season in 19 years Calgary Opera is not headed by former CEO Bob McPhee. The company kicks off with a spin in the barber’s chair — Rossini’s comedic classic The Barber of Seville. This show marks the temporary return of former Calgary Opera resident conductor Topher Mokrzewski and includes the Officer of the Order of Canada and Juno award-winning tenor Russell Braun as Figaro. This is your chance to see one of the best comic operas ever written with an ensemble to match.

Nov. 18, 22 and 24, Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, calgaryopera.com 


This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here. 


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