Sitar, superheroes, legendary ladies and indie film: what's on in Calgary

Under the Influence with the CPO, Comic Expo, CUFF and more: the weekend is jam-packed with events

Anoushka Shankar, DJD does New Orleans and Tanya Tagaq teams up with the symphony in a weekend full of wonders

Anoushka Shankar performs at Arts Commons Friday night (Arts Commons)

It's basically Christmas for nerds and superfans of all ages and all stripes this weekend. That's because Calgary Expo and the Calgary Underground Film Festival are both underway, along with a tantalizing dance pairing, and a trio of outstanding female vocalists. Homestretch director Tracy Fuller spoke to host Doug Dirks about what's on in Calgary this weekend.

Wonder (Woman) World

If you hurry, you can have a Wonder Woman moment Thursday night at the Calgary Comic Expo, where Lynda Carter is appearing. Carter is performing her solo show This Life: My Music, My Story at the Corral tonight. If you're not a Wonder Woman fan, there's plenty of other heroes at Comic Expo including Michael J Fox and the cast of Back to the Future, as well as Zachary Levi, the star of Shazam! There's also geek speed-dating sessions, anime name that tune competitions, sketch dues, screenings, panels, all-day Dungeons and Dragons play and don't forget the Parade of Wonders, which is tomorrow.

Zachary Levi photographed in the Entertainment Weekly portrait studio at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2018 is appearing this weekend at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (Ben Watts)

Calgary Underground Film Festival

CUFF kicked off Monday with a horror film called Little Monsters, starring Lupita Nyong'o and Josh Gadd and it runs all week, right through to Sunday, when the number one pick of the fest happens: Ask Dr Ruth. There's also a Found Footage Festival screening, the annual Saturday morning all-you-can-eat-cereal cartoon party, and a variety of different shorts competitions.

Lupita Nyong'o in Little Monsters, part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival (CUFF)

DJD's Double Bill

Montreal's dynamic dance scene meets one of Calgary's most vibrant dance companies, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. La Otra Orilla presents Magnetikae, a piece that sets a flamenco dance on an ice floe. There's also Lovestruck, choreographed by DJD's Kimberly Cooper. It's inspired by the sounds of New Orleans and tells a mythologized, highly stylized story of Sherman's Roller Rink in Calgary, which burned down in 1915. All of it unfolds in the spectacular DJD Dance Centre, with a live band accompanying the dancers. 

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks team up with a Montreal dance company, La otra Orilla, to present Double Bill at the DJD Dance Centre (DJD)

Legendary ladies of country music

The Bow Valley Music Club shines a light on some of legendary women of country, including the music of Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Barbara Mandrell, Emmylou Harris and more, performed by Lisa Brokop. It's at the Strathcona Christie Aspen Community Centre, 277 Strathcona Drive SW on Saturday night.

Juno Award winning throat singer and author Tanya Tagaq performs with the Calgary Philharmonic Saturday night as part of their Under the Influence Festival. (Rebecca Wood)

Under the Influence Festival

The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra opens what it has described as one of its most boundary-pushing musical festivals ever tonight, combining Tchaikovsky, Frank Zappa, Tany Tagaq, John Corigliano and more. Tonight the Under the Influence Festival kicks off with a performance by CPO's principal percussionist Josh Jones, and Saturday night, there's a special concert featuring Juno-Award winner Tanya Tagaq.

Grammy nominee Anoushka Shankar's new album Lake of Gold was inspired by the Syrian humanitarian crisis. She performs Friday at 7:30 pm at Jack Singer Hall in Calgary. (Arts Commons)

Anoushka Shankar

Grammy-nominee Shankar has some pretty illustrious musical bloodlines: she's sitar legend Ravi's daughter and Grammy winner Norah Jones' half-sister. Her new album, Land of Gold was inspired by the Syrian humanitarian crisis. She's performing Friday night at Jack Singer Hall, at 7:30 p.m.

Mark Kunji Ikeda and Richard Lee Hsi in 8 Bit: The Video Game Dance Show (Cloudsway Dance Theatre)

Eight Bit: The Video Game Dance Show

If you ever secretly hoped to introduce your video game addicted son to performing arts, you might give 8 Bit: The Video Game Dance Show a try. It's a hugely fun show, created by Mark Kunji Ikeda and Richard Lee Hsi, which tells the story of a pair of brothers who get sucked into a killer video game and have to dance their way out of it. Combining games such as Super Mario, Skyrim and Fortnite, 8 Bit was a huge hit when it debuted at the Calgary Fringe Festival a few years back. The creators have brought it back, updated the game references — and it couldn't be more topical. At the West Village Theatre through Sunday afternoon.

If you're a fan of classic video games you'll know 8-bit games were back in the 70's 80's and 90's. From Donkey Kong to Double Dragon, Duck Hunt to Frogger, Space Invaders to Street Fighter -- 8 Bit games set the standard for all the games to come. They also inspired a Calgary Fringe Festival hit from 2013 -- which is now returning to the stage. It's called 8 Bit: The Video Game Dance Show, created and performed by Mark Kunji Ikeda and Richard Lee Hsi. The show opens Wednesday at the West Village Theatre. 7:27

With files from The Homestretch.