Press Picks

january 12
Dance Month master classes As movement mavens know, it's Dance Month at the Kaplan Theatre. Today, amateurs who are at the intermediate or advanced level can train with national pros. Loretta Livingston offers a master class in modern dance and Sara Ayres offers a master class in jazz dance.

Livingston, of Loretta Livingston and Dancers, started her Los Angeles based company in 1984, after a decade with the Lewitzky Dance Company. Her choreography focuses on themes of community and relationships, while her dance technique itself focuses on details and a theatrical movement style.

Ayres, who has danced with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, is a founding member of the River North Dance Company, which she now serves as a rehearsal assistant. She's also a busy teacher. In addition to giving master classes and workshops around the country, Ayres teaches at the Virginia School of Arts, Dance Masters of America and Western Kentucky University. Livingston's class: 6:30-8 p.m.; Ayres' class: 8-9:30 p.m. Jewish Community Center, 5601 South Braeswood. For information about these classes, other class packages or performances, call 729-3200.

january 13
The Clean Air Act and You Gad, does this act mean we have to learn something else about cars? Yes, in fact it does, and we are all going to have to troop down to the library and study. Four speakers will hold forth on the new federal regulations and how all our lives might change. These speakers were not just dragged in off the street -- although pedestrians might have interesting things to say about car-free lives. The speakers are: Jodena Henneke, director of air policy development, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission; Darrell David, Tejas Testing Technology; Brian Wolfe of the Houston-Galveston Area Council; and Mary Ellen Whitworth, city of Houston director of environmental policy. After holding forth, the speakers will answer questions. 9:30 a.m., Montrose Branch Library, 4100 Montrose. For information, call the League of Women Voters, 784-2923. Free, and with refreshments.

Is Houston Ready for Harvey Milk? The citizenry is invited to express their views, and hear what Maxine Mesinger and Juan Palomo have to say, at this town meeting with David Gockley. Now, if it turns out that hordes of people show up and say, "Hell no, we won't go," or similar rot, the opera Harvey Milk will still premiere as planned. Sorry, but the Houston Grand Opera has many happy subscribers, a fine international reputation and contractual obligations with the New York and San Francisco operas. This is just an opportunity for dialogue, and what an opportunity! To update those whose memories stretch only as far back as the last O.J. expose: Harvey Milk was San Francisco's first openly gay elected official, and was assassinated. Native Houstonian Stewart Wallace composed the music for Harvey Milk and the opening night will be attended by music critics from around the world. Most people in town probably won't notice, but this opera is a spectacular event. Find out what's at stake, find out what the story is and find out how Houstonians feel at this town meeting. 6-8 p.m. Contemporary Arts Museum, 5216 Montrose, 526-0773. Free and open to the public.

Back in the Saddle Again Gala It's that time again -- Go-Texan time. The Black Go-Texan Committee of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is out of the gate early with a scholarship fundraiser. Last year, the committee awarded $10,000 college scholarships to 13 local students. This year, of course, they hope to do even more. Lillie Fontenot, the gala chair, and Howard Middleton, the committee chair, have arranged for not one but two kicker bands and a fabulous dinner. The evening begins with a reception at 7 p.m.; dinner and dancing commence at 8 p.m. The Astrohall, 2000 West Loop South at Kirby. For rodeo and related events information, call 791-9000; for reservations, call Callas & Foster, 961-7911. Reserved seat tickets, $500, $250 and $100.

Pizza Man What can this mean? First Pizza Boy: A History of the Tomato at Zocalo and now this, Pizza Man, at Houston Skyline. What's afoot? Where can this end? Who's to blame? In this case, Fat Man Productions is the culprit -- that much is sure. What are they up to? We can only guess. Gender issues are always almost incomprehensibly complex. And, yes, gender is an issue. At the time, it did not seem that the historic tomato of Pizza Boy was a woman -- woman as in "getta load of the cans on that tomato." In retrospect, as is so often the case in mysteries, things seem different. Pizza Man is plainly plotted on gender issues. Our stars, Anita Vigilante and Victoria Melnick, are worldly contemporary women and so, naturally, fed up with the male animal. Not only fed up, but plotting revenge. Needing fuel for their war room, they order in. Enter "Pizza Man" and a whole new slew of plot twists. Had they but known.... Pizza Man opens tonight, 8 p.m., and runs through February 25. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Houston Skyline Theater, Houston House, 1617 Fannin, ninth floor of Houston House, 759-0701. For reservations, call 523-1530. $12.

Avner the Eccentric Eccentric, in Avner's case, is a vaudeville term. Avner is not a dancer, not clearly tap or soft shoe or ballroom anyway; not an ordinary juggler; not only an acrobat; and not only a baggy pants comic. Avner does all of these things, and some magic, with his own cheery spin. On his show and various specials, Red Skelton used to attempt authentic vaudeville routines. Skelton's efforts were labored and cold compared to Avner's work. Avner has a magic touch with inanimate objects that few can equal. In his clever hands, ordinary objects ranging from popcorn kernels to baseball bats can become animated, mischievous creatures. Avner can balance a 12-foot ladder on his chin and was once arrested on the streets of gay Paris for "public buffoonery." Don't let the red rubber nose fool you; Avner is no ordinary clown. One performance only. 8 p.m. Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue. For tickets, call 227-ARTS. Call right now. $10, $15 and $20.

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