“Do you want to know how I actually broke my tailbone?”
Hips swaying side to side, Vancouver-based writer, performer and activist Carmen Aguirre puts the question to her audience early on in her quasi-solo performance in Broken Tailbone.
“The play is a salsa dancing lesson and what I do is tell the story of LatinX dance halls in Canada” explains Aguirre, who is also joined on stage by DJ Don Pedro.
“I also tell personal stories of my own of LatinX dance halls,” she continued. “I teach geopolitical history of Latin America and we play amazing music and even, you know, the most shy dancer ends up on their feet at some point. Most of the time its everybody that’s on their feet.”
Aguirre describes LatinX as the gender-neutral term for people of Latin origin.
Playing for 3 nights at the Vertigo Theatre as part of Calgary’s High Performance Rodeo, Broken Tailbone is a far cry from your “typical” theatre performance.
Then again, nothing at the Rodeo would be considered typical.
“The rodeo after 33 years is still known for offering something wild for everyone,” said Festival Producer Laurel Green.
“We really have rare and unique experiences you can’t get anywhere else,” said Green pointing to productions like Pearle Harbour’s Chautauqua, Crawl Space and Hammered Hamlet. “So a really wide range of experiences and incredible artists coming out to the festival.”
Green says it’s just one of several reasons why she believes the international arts festival has sold thousands more tickets this year than they did in 2018 and more than they have in any other year over the last decade.
She says new collaborations have also helped boost the number of tickets that have been sold since the festival started January 9.
“The festival this year has excellent partnerships with other arts organizations across Calgary,” said Green, listing off partnerships with organizations including the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Alberta Ballet, Lunchbox Theatre and Alberta Theatre Projects.
“I think that really brings a new energy to the festival that invites new audiences that might be ticket holders with those partners. They then get to come and get a taste of the festival and then we see them buy tickets to other shows,” she said.
Heading into the closing weekend, over 17,000 tickets had been sold marking a ten-year record high.
The High Performance Rodeo wraps in various venues in Calgary January 27. Tickets are still available for many of the remaining shows. The complete scheduale can be found on the festival’s website.