You may feel that you don't really "get" modern dance. The leaping, dipping, swaying -- it looks great, but you're supposed to know how to interpret it, right? Wrong, says Louie Saletan, who is heading the Barnevelder Movement/Art Center's second annual Big Range Dance Festival. "There is no 'correct' interpretation in modern dance," he says. "A choreographer wants you to respond how you would choose to." Big Range features 16 dance performances in five venues over an 18-day period. Established local troupes such as Suchu Dance and Chrysalis Dance Company will showcase new material in a series of vignettes dubbed "3x30." Newer companies will also present works. Saletan hopes the performances show "that the artists we have in Houston really represent a wide array of movement."
Expect everything from a multimedia video piece to a cheeky "Late Night Cabaret Art Party." There's even a Memorial Day Community Picnic, with live music, dance improv games and an adult-size swimming pool. "It's to remove the stodginess of dance," says Saletan. "An hour before the performance, you're wading around in three and a half feet of water, and next you're watching these choreographers." The festival opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27. 2201 Preston. For a full schedule of times and venues, call 713-529-1819 or visit www.bigrange.org. $5 to $14. -- Steven Devadanam
Jacques of All Trades Mercury Baroque presents Le Devin du Village
One of the great 18th-century French multitaskers, Jean-Jacques Rousseau didn't limit himself to writing hugely influential philosophical treatises. He also composed the opera Le Devin du Village, the hottest box-office property of its era (just imagine finding out that Stephen Hawking had written Cats). In a collaboration between Houston's Mercury Baroque Ensemble and the New York Baroque Dance Company, director Kate Pogue, conductor Antoine Plante and choreographer Catherine Turocy are presenting Rousseau's extremely light opera in exquisite period style. The simple, charming plot tells the story of the unfaithful Colin, his jilted Colette and the village soothsayer, who does his damnedest to trick the pair into falling in love again. 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 28. Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.mercurybaroque.org. $15 to $25. -- Scott Faingold
Pack Off the Brats
If lately you've found yourself twiddling your hands to keep from smacking your rambunctious kids, it might be time to take a night off. Go check out Oliver! and see a group of even cuter kids sing and dance -- despite being orphaned and abused. The next time little Suzy has a fit because she can't get the latest Barbie, you can tell her about Oliver, and how thankful he was for just another bowl of mush. The show opens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 1. Runs through Sunday, June 20. Sarofim Hall at the Hobby Center for Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For a full schedule, call 713-558-8887 or visit www.tuts.com. $25 to $68. -- Melissa Richter
Boobs and Burbs
The Men's Club next to Marshalls? Not in Precious Trees, Texas, where the lawns are manicured and the moral ground is firm. See what happens to the goodly citizens of Houston's most morally upright, master-planned suburb when a strip club comes to town in Life Beyond the Loop.8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Saturdays. Through August 28. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt. For more information, call 713-522-7722 or visit www.radiomusictheatre.com. $18. -- Steven Devadanam