Press Picks

march 9
Paragon Brass Ensemble Young Audiences of Houston takes a break from presenting concerts and classes for school children and presents a concert for working stiffs downtown. The selections in this afternoon's program range from Bach to Dixieland. 12:15-1:15 p.m. Hermann Square Park, City Hall. For details, call 520-9264. Free.

Skeleton Clock A newly retooled version of Trey McIntyre's Skeleton Clock opens the Houston Ballet's "farewell to the rodeo" mixed repertory program. Why farewell to the rodeo? Because this town is rodeo mad, that's why. McIntyre is not so easily influenced, not anymore. This new Skeleton Clock, he says, is simply "an abstract dance work, influenced by the mechanical workings of a clock." Now, he says, "most of the conceptual ideas I had about the ballet have fallen away." Meaning he's working on his ideas, rather than an idea of what he is supposed to do -- or what others like, say, Twyla Tharp have done. The program also includes Ben Stevenson's Three Preludes and the world premiere of his Sylvia Pas de Deux. The program closes with George Balanchine's Western Symphony. Western Symphony is Balanchine's toe-tapping, knee-slapping homage to the beauty of the American West, written after his travels under the region's big and bright skies. The first of seven performances is set for 7:30 tonight. Brown Theater, Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 227-2787. $5-$70.

march 10
Summer Festivals of Southwest Mexico What happens to us here on the Gulf Coast is that we are brought down by the unseasonably cold -- for Houston -- days of March, and then, in our low-down state, try to sate our lust for things Latin with the suitable but not exciting cuisine of Taco Bell. This does not work. For a little of that AViva! feeling, wait for a windy, bright day and go fly a kite on Galveston Island ... or scope out George O. Jackson's huge, full-color prints taken among the Nahua, Tlapanec and Amusgo cultures of Guerrero, Mexico. You got your joyous rites of gratitude, your lively harvest festivals and all kinds of other scenes of passionate people. Helpful plaques identify and explain the festivals in the photos. On the second floor mezzanine today through September 9. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Hermann Park, 639-4600. $3 adults; $2 children under 12.

Free Outdoor Concert The Albert Thomas Convention Center is dead; long live the Albert Thomas Convention Center. The deal is, plans are afoot to turn the former Albert Thomas Convention Center into "Bayou Place at the Albert Thomas." This "Bayou Place at the Albert Thomas" would be a multi-venue theme park of swinging singledom for swinging singles and happy couples. Night clubs, restaurants and little coffee booths, everything needed for a date, would be all under one roof. This concert is just a way to spread the word. Mrs. Molly, Duck Soup, Randy Pelt and Three Dog Night will perform. Budweiser is a sponsor of this pre-Party on the Plaza party on the plaza, so we can assume that Bud beers will be sold at the drink booths. (There'll be food booths, too.) 5-10 p.m. Jones Plaza, downtown. For details call the Civic Center, 853-8000.

Scenes from My Love Life "A play about sex clubs, phone sex and personal ads." Or, "a play about sex clubs, phone sex and theatre critics." The fliers vary. The consistent information says that writer Ronnie Larsen, who directed his show's wildly successful San Francisco premiere, is in town to direct this production. We are not ready to call Larsen the Neil Simon of Gay America, but he's in the neighborhood. Fridays and Saturdays through March 25. Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, 527-8243. $15.

Donald Byrd/The Group Choreographer Donald Byrd has gone far beyond Bob Fosse's pelvic thrusts and choreographs urgently lascivious moves. Going even farther, his dance addresses need (as in primal human needs) and discusses romance. Those, and other uneasy, inevitable tensions between the sexes, are explored in Bristle. The program also includes The Group's Bessie Award-winning Drastic Cuts. If this all sounds dreadfully modern, it is. However, Byrd's dancers are classically trained and excruciating perfectionists. 8:30 p.m. Today and Saturday, March 11, Cullen Performance Hall, University of Houston (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun). For tickets, call 228-0914. $10.

march 11
The Orange Show reopens Whee! Spring is here, the pond is full and The Orange Show is open again. Postman and folk artist Jeff McKissack's bizarre and inspiring monument to the orange and concrete has been repainted by hard-working Orange Show volunteers, and every man, woman and child in the entire city of Houston is invited out to celebrate. Soon, the folk art monument/foundation will be busy with school lunch programs and wild artistic events and, of course, the Art Car Parade. Tonight, another season is kicked off in goofball style. The Men of Houston Morris Dancers will begin the evening with druidic flair, strutting in English traditional dances inspired by ancient rituals. Then, Bandu Espritu will perform their special blend of hip-hop, samba, reggae and funk. When funk-a-fied, dance-happy revelers get hungry, they can have a little nosh -- Mike Behne will be dishing out spicy snacks. This is a uniquely Houston experience. 7-11 p.m. The Orange Show, 2402 Munger, 926-6368. All this, and a very special feeling of goodwill, for only a five spot.

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