Fall Performing Arts Season: Calgary Picks

fall leaves - a sign of a new fall arts seasonBesides the turning of the leaves, my favourite part of fall is the start of a new season of performing arts. Cities like Calgary have so many options that it can be a real challenge to decide what to see. I’m here to help!

I’ve chosen a subscription package in each arts discipline – theatre, dance and music. If you’re a visitor to Calgary, just check the arts group website links I’ve provided for single tickets to performances running during your stay.

Theatre:  ATP 4-Pack

My friends and I alternate between theatre companies depending how the season looks.  This year, Alberta Theatre Projects is staging some compelling plays, so we opted for their 4-pack. Here’s what we’ll see:

  • Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: ATP’s  artistic director calls this Broadway bestseller and Tony Award winner the funniest script she’s read in years and “pure delirium”. Starting the season off with some belly laughs sounds like a good thing.
  • The Circle: This one sounds like a modern-day Breakfast Club with a bit more edge.
  • Cockroach: The story of a troubled Middle Eastern immigrant in Montreal, this play is based on an award-winning Canadian novel. It’s described as a modern-day thriller told from the shadows; I’m expecting some channeling of Kafka.
  • Buyer & Cellar: The season that started funny will end funny. One actor plays all the parts in this play about a private shopping mall in Barbara Streisand’s basement. It’s been a hit elsewhere in North America already.

ATP 4-pack subscriptions start at $109 if you go mid week and settle for seats farther from the stage.

Dance: Alberta Ballet 3-Pack + Specials

In past years, I’ve attended single ballet performances, but this year’s season at Alberta Ballet has too many appealing shows to choose just one. The 3-pack starts at $78, but for dance I’m inclined to pay more for the better seat categories. Here’s what you get:

  • Paul Taylor Dance Company: The renowned American touring company will perform two works, one featuring dance styles of the 1940’s; the other starring sultry tango.
  • Dynamic Directions: Works by three of Canada’s preeminent choreographers. One of them has created works for the Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, American Ballet Theatre and the Martha Graham Dance Company.
  • Choice of one of the following:
    • Balletlujah!: Choreographed to the music of  k.d. lang by Alberta Ballet’s Jean Grand-Maître with video design by Adam Larsen (my pick of the 3).
    • Love Lies Bleeding: Another Jean Grand-Maître / Adam Larsen collaboration, this time set to the music of Elton John.
    • Romeo & Juliet: A classic, with full live accompaniment by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.

Subscribers also get a discount on tickets to a few special productions. These ones are on my list:

  • Shaping Sound: Contemporary dance featuring choreographers and performers from So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars
  • Up Close: A small studio performance where company dancers perform their favourite works.
alberta ballet, one of my fall arts season calgary picks

Image: Alberta Ballet

Music: Spiritus Chamber Choir 4-Concert Subscription

I’ve been drawn to classical chorale music lately. I know little about it (so far), but it’s my favourite playlist genre to queue up on weekend mornings. Spiritus Chamber Choir is technically an ‘amateur’ ensemble, but their performances are pure vocal perfection. I love that their programs are accessible and snobbery-free. The music director often addresses the audience between pieces to give historical perspective and/or listening tips for the works being performed.

Their Venetian Christmas Concert will be held in a downtown church with splendid acoustics. It will involve different physical arrangements of the singers as they perform from various balconies and floor-level spots within the sanctuary. They’ll be delivering the program of 15th to 17th Century Italian music the way it would have been performed in the glory days of Venice. The effect promises to be heavenly.

A full season subscription of four concerts is $100, and the choir’s repertoire includes both classical and modern works. I can’t wait to hear more.

More Calgary Arts Options

Here are some of Calgary’s other fine arts companies to consider:


  • Theatre Calgary – the other “big” theatre company in the city, their repertoire is ambitious. Every year they’ll stage one production by a big name like Arthur Miller, one musical, a new Canadian work, a national or international collaboration, a co-production with One Yellow Rabbit and a holiday run of A Christmas Carol.
  • One Yellow Rabbit – Calgary’s most successful avant-garde company. Last year they suffered the devastating loss of one of their Co-Artistic Directors. They’re still recovering and have yet to reveal their plans for the coming season, but hopefully they will continue on.



Whatever you decide to see this season, may you find reason to shout “Bravo!”

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