The Soulocentric Festival, now in its third year after a few year hiatus offers Calgarians the opportunity to get a taste of a vast range of performers working in a variety of performance mediums. The festival has a line up of dance, music, and multimedia performances, all taking place in the Vertigo Studio. Festival curator, Judith Mendelsohn, describes the festival as “an exploration for artists, often emerging artists, who want to present new and original work, within the framework of a solo piece.” This year, with more programming than last year, the festival has “got a wide array of artists that are going to be performing really challenging and exciting, eccentric and absurd work, in different genres and different forms throughout the festival.”
This years festival showcase on Thursday night features Jeremy Verkley and Jennifer LeBlanc, returning from last year and Jed Tomlinson in a clowning piece. The showcase also has former Cirque du Soleil Jessica Barrera in a performance piece. Later in the evening, Melanee Murray is on the main stage with her piece The Hoodwinked, previously performed at the Calgary Fringe Festival.
The festival has experienced fantastic growth in the past couple years, which is benefiting emerging artists. “We’ve been able to have a programming increase this year,” Mendelsohn says, “which is great for us to have more artists involved. Word of the festival has been spreading and growing and it’s been seen as a really valuable contributor to the art scene in Calgary.”
Running a performance festival isn’t without its challenges though. Soulocentric faces the challenge of running on a small budget, as most performance festivals do. “The Artistic Director Jenny Respond Peters and myself basically work out of love for the festival,” Mendelsohn says. But their passion has caused the festival to grow and this has increased the platform in which emerging artists can present their original work. “We’ve got artists who are involved in the festival that come back each year and it’s neat to see their pieces go from a ten minute piece to a full length piece,” Mendelsohn states.
“Our festival is contained,” Mendelsohn says when asked how the Soulocentric festival is different from other performance festivals, “[patrons] don’t have to travel from venue to venue. We’re really lucky that we are in the Vertigo Studio theatre, [as it] really set the bar high for [artists] to be creating pieces of professional caliber.”
The Soulocentric festival runs until Saturday. More information and tickets can be found online.