What is the urban culture of Calgary? A good question, one that is answered with a bang inside the Big Secret Theatre as part of Springboard Performance’s 2015 Fluid Festival.

  The Urban Culture Cabaret is a collection of talent, spanning slam poetry, dance, and rap, drawn from Calgary’s urban culture community. And the word community is not used lightly here. From start to finish, the show stands as a celebration of the many voices that make it whole.

   One moment, dancer Tony Tran tears up the stage with his solo vogue dance (that has a delightful twist!); the next Pulse Studio’s Beast Machine, a dance company for ages 8 - 17, whips and nae naes with great energy. Then, Angela Gladue, a.k.a Lunacee, and Camille Shields rock the house with their rap skills and big personalities. 

  And there are collaborations between spoken word and movement, as well.

  Dancers Amauri and Jason Galeos join poet Jeremy Park as he delivers “The Mark on My Hand,” a poem recalling a time he had to prove himself in a ‘wimp test’. Between the three men, a poignant, physical conversation about adolescence, peer pressure, and masculinity emerges. 

  Other (hard) truths surface during the Cabaret.

  Poet Cobra Collins’ “Truth & Reconciliation” reminds us that abuses against Aboriginal peoples continue today in Canada. The past is present; the past is inherited. And Veniece Tedeschini, who collaborates onstage with Pulse Studio’s Creative Director Tara Wilson, reminds us of the weight and inescapable consequences words, specifically derogatory terms, have once they escape us in her poem “Etcetera.”

  Perhaps what makes the Cabaret such an enjoyable time is the genuineness of it all. Each in their own time delivers something they feel needs to be shared right now, right here in this moment with strangers. And the audience is part of the celebration as they eagerly engage with these artists, sometimes quite vocally with hoots and encouraging comments.

  And so, the success of the Urban Culture Cabaret is not only the diversity of talent and voices represented, but also the enthusiasm and fearlessness displayed by the artists involved. With something for everyone, audiences should not miss such an exciting presentation of Calgary’s urban culture community.

  By Rodrigo Flores

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Rodrigo Flores originally hails from Fredericton, New Brunswick, but now lives in Calgary where he enjoys the city’s vibrant performing arts scene as a theatre critic. Rodrigo reviews online at Joyful Magpies.