Tour de Bayou Tonight is the first of six Thursday evenings of "free races, free water, free fun." The races referred to are of the foot variety, specifically going cross-country, even more specifically going cross-country near areas such as Buffalo Bayou. So the series involves more of a commitment than your standard fun run. As such, runners who finish at least four of the six races will be rewarded with a commemorative "Bog Person" hat, which is nothing compared to the personal satisfaction you'll receive from having actually completed these jaunts -- each of which ranges in distance from three to six miles. Stage one is called "The Classic Course," and begins on the south side of Buffalo Bayou at Allen Parkway and Waugh Drive. Park near the American General building. 6 p.m. 524-6662. Free.
Dance Salad This evening of neoclassical and contemporary dance tosses together the music of Chopin, Eartha Kitt, Andreas Vollenweider, Harry Connick Jr. and the Houston Ebony Opera Guild, the works of a few local choreographers and the American premiere of the David Sonnenbluck Ballet Company of Brussels. The Houston Ballet's Sandra Organ will be presenting a work, "Between Us," that features Ballet colleagues Timothy O'Keefe, Dawn Scannell and Dominic Walsh; Scannell, Organ and former Houston Ballet principal dancer Mark Arvin perform in Nancy Henderek's "Journey to Memory"; Keith Anthony R. Cross dedicates his piece, "Heaven," to the late Alvin Ailey; and Sonnenbluck, whose other stint in the States was with Ballet Austin, brings us "Synopsis" and "Desire." 8 p.m. tonight and Friday. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall (entrance no. 1 off Calhoun), 227-ARTS. $8-$25.
Chicano! History of the Mexican-American Civil Rights Movement Henry Cisneros narrates this four-hour PBS miniseries, which is reported to be powerful and enlightening; couldn't you use a little more power and enlightenment in your life? The first two segments are "Quest for a Homeland" and "Struggle in the Fields." The former opens in 1966, with Mexican-Americans fighting to reclaim compromised lands in New Mexico and protect their culture and language, events that ignited passions and spawned Chicano activism across the nation; the latter focuses on the legendary Cesar Chavez. Sneak preview tonight from 7-9 p.m., followed by a panel presentation. The Museum of Fine Arts, Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. The entire series will be shown in one-hour segments at 8 p.m. April 1518 on KUHT/ Channel 8. Free.
Anne of Green Gables The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion kicks off its 1996 Cultural Arts Season with this one-act musical adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's tale of Anne Shirley, a plucky young orphan from Halifax struggling to find her way in the world and into the hearts of her adopted family. This production comes complete with not only the exploits of a truly beloved heroine, but also a rich musical score, period costumes and beautiful sets. 7:30 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins Drive, The Woodlands, 363-3300. $4.
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme The first couple of American popular music are here. They'll probably sing their signature song, "Blame It on the Bossa Nova," and maybe Steve's big hit, "Go Away Little Girl." They'll smile a bunch, too. Before all that, though, Stephen Stein will conduct the Houston Symphony in Suppe's Light Cavalry Overture, a medley of Duke Ellington favorites and the Beatles' "Yesterday." 8 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-ARTS. $15-$60.
Tod Waters Waters is out there, artistically speaking. He's got his hand in music (he's the frontman for Spunk), special effects (he's rigged explosions for the Ghetto Boys), tattoos (giving and receiving) and paintings. Some critics have called Waters' work cynical; he refers to it as "weird," and says, "I dig art that makes me feel nauseated." "The Art of Tod Waters" is on display at the Mausoleum Coffee Bar, 411 Westheimer, today and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. 526-4648. Free.
Bellaire Home Tour This year's tour features six extraordinary homes, along with the historic Henshaw House. Not to suggest that the Henshaw place isn't also extraordinary: this home to the Nature Discovery Center was built in the 1920s and, in the 1930s, was the abode of Bellaire's mayor. It has history, and it's been restored. Other homes on the tour range from the new to the remodeled, and can either be looked at in order to inspire simple envy or to inspire ideas for the creative decoration of children's rooms or adding on to older homes. 15 p.m. today and Sunday. Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle, 667-6550. $3, each home; $12, all six.
When They Came to Take My Father Mark Seliger, chief photographer for Rolling Stone, is known for his shots of rock stars. In particular, he's known for finding a star's distinct characteristics and incorporating those into, umm, unusual setups. (He's the guy who got Mick Fleetwood to pose in a wedding gown with John McVie to commemorate their 25 years together.) For his latest project, Seliger's taken his uncanny ability to read people and applied it to capturing somber portraits (and first person tales) of Holocaust survivors. Among the survivors Seliger, a graduate of the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts, included in his book are Houstonians Alice Lok Cahana and Max, Sigmund and Sol Jucker of The Three Brothers Bakery. Seliger will discuss his project and sign copies of his collection of stories and images, which he titled When They Came to Take My Father: Voices of the Holocaust, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today. Barnes and Noble, 3003 West Holcombe Boulevard, 349-0050. Signing free; $35 for the book.