Press Picks

Triple Focus As a dancer, Sean Curran pounded, beat and snapped his way through Stomp and won a Bessie Award for his work with Bill T. Jones. As a choreographer, he's taught at Harvard and Wesleyan, and had his dances performed at festivals from Denmark to Tel Aviv. His new "(Another) A Musing Machine," which he has set on the Chrysalis Dance Company, debuts at tonight's Dance Month at the Kaplan concert. Joan Karff's New Dance Group and Texas Dance Theatre share the bill. 8 p.m. Jewish Community Center, Kaplan Theatre, 5601 South Braeswood, 551-7255. $12; $7, seniors and students.

13th Annual International Piano Festival As founder of this pianofest, UH professor Abbey Simon did the honors at Friday's festival-opening recital; at 2 p.m. today, he hosts a master class. But one artist does not a festival make, and this year's guests are John Bayless, a native Texan and so-called modern-day Franz Liszt, and Santiago Rodriguez, the 1981 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition silver medalist and one of today's foremost interpreters of Rachmaninoff. Bayless, whom some may remember from his CD Bach Meets the Beatles -- a Billboard chart-topper in the '80s -- will conduct his own master class at 2 p.m. today and is featured in a recital at 4 p.m. Sunday. Rodriguez grabs the spotlight at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Dudley Recital Hall, University of Houston Moores School of Music, 743-3167. $14 per event; $7, students and seniors.

Carnaval Brasileiro Texas Stevens and Pruett, mark your calendars: At this event, sensual music inspires women to shed their inhibitions, don outrageous costumes and expose substantial stretches of skin. Carnaval Brasileiro Texas is a 20-year tradition in Austin, where 3,500 partygoers turn out each year. Since it's new in Houston, this festival may draw a smaller crowd, but the festivities will be full-scale: costumes a la Carmen Miranda, the Latin rhythms of Susanna Sharpe and the Samba Police and five hours of Brazilian-style dancing and revelry. This is an all-ages event, though a cash bar will be available, and promoters warn that preteens may find the experience a bit overwhelming. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Adam's Mark Hotel, Grand Pavilion, 2900 Briarpark Drive. $20 in advance (available through Ticketmaster, 629-3700); $25 at the door.

sunday
january 19
Folk Songs Folks Sang Bayou Bend celebrates the songs average people use to express themselves, the sort of homemade music that's passed down through generations. Now, this Family Day event offers you professional help in passing the tunes down to your own kids. Performances are at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., with music provided by Oasis for Children; KUHF/88.7 FM fills in the gaps. And there are craft workshops, too. If older siblings can't hang with the banjo jam, the grounds of Bayou Bend await their exploration. 1-5 p.m. Bayou Bend Collection & Gardens, 1 Westcott (at Memorial Drive), 639-7750. Free.

monday
january 20
Martin Luther King Day Parade and more Today we celebrate the 68th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth, and the Black Heritage Society provides us a chance to do so in usual holiday fashion -- starting with a grand parade. Marshals James Douglas, Rod Paige and Lee P. Brown and a slew of marching bands, floats and dignitaries will start at Texas and Louisiana and wend their way to Tranquillity Park between 10 a.m. and noon. Immediately afterward, a festival kicks off at the George R. Brown Convention Center on the other end of downtown. "We the People" is the theme, and, indeed, there'll be 30,000 or so of us, perusing African art and scarfing festival foods. That shindig shuts down at 6 p.m., but the hoopla continues 30 minutes later with a children's pageant. George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenue of the Americas. For more information, call the Black Heritage Society at 995-1082. Free, parade and festival; $5, pageant.

tuesday
january 21
Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 After the Los Angeles riots, Anna Deavere Smith conducted more than 200 interviews, and drew on them to create the dozen or so "characters" of Twilight. She plays a Korean grocer, a "homeboy," a white juror in the Rodney King trial, Reginald Denny himself and others as she explores the racial and cultural differences in the U.S. For her efforts, Smith has won an Obie and a MacArthur "genius" grant; Newsweek called her "the most exciting person in American theater." Opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. Through January 26 (for additional showtimes, see Thrills, Theater). Wortham Center, Cullen Theatre, 500 Texas Avenue. Tickets are available at the Alley Theatre box office, 615 Texas Avenue, or by calling 228-8421. $26-$36.

wednesday
january 22
Play bridge With cigars, martinis and lounge music back in favor, it was only a matter of time before bridge returned as well. And returned with a trendy vengeance: Loads of newcomers now play the card game in cyberspace. Sure, there's an attraction to hunkering down with your PC, chasing a slam with your new partner from China (bridge, after all, comes complete with its own language). But down deep, wouldn't you prefer to pull trump with a real-life foursome, with a roaring fire and a baby grand to occupy you when you're dummy? Maxim's restaurant opens its piano bar in the afternoons for players who'd like to make a go of it. If you know the difference between Blackwood and a biddable suit, make your reservations now. Maxim's, 3755 Richmond, 877-8899.

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