"The Graham company would always bear an unsettling resemblance to a religious cult, with the choreographer as high priestess." So wrote Time magazine in 1998, in an article naming Martha Graham as one of the most important people of the century. Graham was indeed striking and authoritative and arrogant, and she still stands at the helm of the dance world, 14 years after her death. Many say Graham was to dance what Picasso was to art: She sloughed off her medium's traditions and formalities. And in so doing, she created modern dance. Her movement -- jagged, angular and toe-shoe-less -- stunned the 1920s New York dance world, and her troupe, which she founded in 1926, went on to spawn such luminaries as Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Twyla Tharp.
This weekend, Society for the Performing Arts brings the Martha Graham Dance Company to town to perform four of Graham's 181 works: Diversion of Angels, a 1948 piece that explores the joys of youth and young love; Errand into the Maze, a 1947 study of human fear; Embattled Garden, a 1958 glimpse into the Garden of Eden; and Chronicle, a 1936 piece about war and its devastation. Pay homage to the mistress of dance at 8 p.m. Friday, February 25. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org. $23.25 to $55.25. Julia Ramey
Boys' Night Out
Voices of Vienna serenade Jones Hall
It's the perfect fodder for every struggling local comedian's act: The Vienna Choirboys are coming to town. Yes, we can already hear all the clergy-related punch lines. But while hapless yuksters make lame jokes at their expense, the boys will be playing to what should be an appreciative crowd at Jones Hall. The choir was first created for Austria's Emperor Maximilian I in 1498 (making them as old as, say, Aerosmith) and has since become a classical- and holiday-music staple. You've heard the boys -- a group of 100 singers who range from ten to 14 years old -- in commercials, Christmas specials, movies and possibly even in Vienna Boys Choir Goes Pop, the 2002 album featuring Madonna, Celine Dion and Robbie Williams covers. Expect music from composers like Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Madonna at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 26. 615 Louisiana. For tickets and information, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org. $34.25 to $49.25. Steven Devadanam
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The Alley Theatre might have to change its celebration of Arthur Miller's 90th birthday to a celebration of his life, as the playwright's recent death left him just short of the big nine-oh. (Either way, it's not like Miller will be forgotten anytime soon.) As the second part of a two-play tribute (After the Fall just closed), the Alley offers The Crucible, Miller's 1953 play about the Salem Witch Trials and the puritanical townspeople at their center. The Crucible is as gripping as plays get; see why you shouldn't take the right to dance for granted from Wednesday, March 2, through March 20. 615 Texas. For tickets, showtimes and information, call 713-228-8421 or visit www.alleytheatre.com. $19 to $50. Julia Ramey
In case you've been ignoring The OC, Napoleon Dynamite and the entire career of Elijah Wood, geeks are hot right now. Demetri Martin not only is sufficiently cute in that nerdy way, but also happens to be hilarious. The guitar-strumming, dead-panning, Yale-educated comedian, who once wrote a 224-word palindrome, appears at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, February 24, and 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, February 25 and 26. The Laff Stop, 1952 West Gray. For tickets and information, call 713-524-2333 or visit www.laffstop.com. $16.50 to $21.65. -- Julia Ramey