Eva Perón, Argentina's beloved and wildly famous former First Lady, has inspired generations of her compatriots with her rags-to-riches life. Evita, the Broadway show and subsequent movie based on her life, tells her story through music. With The Song of Eva Perón, Tango Buenos Aires tells her story through dance this Friday. Tango, to be precise. Led by Artistic Director Rosario Bauza and choreographer Héctor Falcón, Tango Buenos Aires performs an evening-length tribute to Perón, from her rise to fame in the 1930s to her tragic death in 1952.
Fernando Marzan, the production's music director, explains the show's score: "[Tango] has such a variety of influences (African, Italian, Spanish and Creole) that the mood of the music can suddenly turn from a sizzling milonga to a melancholic melody in just a moment." Able to create an atmosphere of sensuality or tension with just a glance or subtle gesture, the company's dancers reflect the same dynamic shifts. The quick footwork patterns, sustained dips, intense stares and elegant postures are all present.
Presented by the Society for the Performing Arts, the performance includes more than two dozen dancers onstage, accompanied by live music. 8 p.m. Friday, Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $30 to $90.
Swedish clarinetist Martin Fröst makes his Houston Symphony debut with Copland and Dvorák, this Friday, a program that features Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto and Dvorák's Symphony No. 7. Also on the program are Charles Ives's Symphony No. 1 and Goran Fröst's (Martin's brother) Klezmer Dances for Clarinet and Strings.
Copland and Dvorák are stylistically different, according to Brinton Averil Smith, the Houston Symphony's principal cellist. "Dvorák may give you a whole symphony full of yearning, but Copland gives you moments of yearning and a lot of moments of tapping your feet," Smith says. "You have the singing Dvorák melodies, but you also have this structural tension...For [Dvorák]...there's something in the mix of darkness and light, the real drama and the tension that I don't think he had in his previous symphonies. This [piece] was really a giant."
The Houston Symphony's music director, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, still in his inaugural year, leads the orchestra. 7:30 p.m. Friday; 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $125.
Almost all of us are guilty of gluttony, lust or greed. But is this necessarily bad? Texas-born artist Anthony Sonnenberg, who now hails from Seattle, addresses these questions in his exhibit "With Wild Abandon," which opens this Friday at Lawndale Art Center. "My work really comes down to the idea of how we indulge," explains Sonnenberg, who incorporates taxidermy, ceramics, porcelain, textiles, tchotchkes, photography and self-portraits in his work. "Indulgence is something that we enter upon by choice. [We ask ourselves], 'What thing can I have that will make me happy?'
"It's a bit of a paradoxical thing," continues Sonnenberg. "On the one hand, giving in to pleasure makes life worth living. On the other hand...do we hasten our demise?" Like Icarus with his doomed winged flight, "Was that one moment of freedom worth it? It's a question that we all have to ask. What is the answer? I still haven't figured that out," Sonnenberg says.
Neither advertisement nor condemnation, Sonnenberg's Crown for Silenus is an over-the-top gaudy headpiece made of brass sheeting and piping, red coral and silver solder. "It visually grabs you," he says. "The crown itself is like a mermaid made of all the most popular intoxicants. Marijuana plants, cocaine plants, tobacco plants and mushrooms around the crown."
There's an opening reception with the artist at 6 p.m. this Friday. Regular viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 12 to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Through April 18. Lawndale Art Center, 4912 Main. For information, call 713-528-5858 or visit lawndaleartcenter.org. Free.
Ballet lovers of all types as well as people not too sure what part of the art form appeals to them will have a chance to look at it in some variety as the Houston Ballet presents Modern Masters, a program featuring three distinctive dance performances, this Saturday and Sunday. Oliver Halkowich, a soloist with the Houston Ballet, will be dancing two roles; he's in George Balanchine's Ballo della Regina and Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato's Jardi Tancat. Halkowich did the same roles five years ago and thinks he's doing them both better now since, he says, he understands them more clearly. "The Balanchine piece is very abstract. There's a bit of a story. The guy is a fisherman. We're looking for this pearl, which is the girl. But it's abstract. It's a challenging role. It's a lot of jumping and fast footwork."
In Jardi Tancat, there are three couples. "It's earthy and down. It's kind of this story of Spanish workers. We've been given a lot of images of lifting carts of oranges and planting and sowing and that sort of imagery to get us down into the ground and moving in this heavier, earthy feeling." The other piece, Etudes, takes the dancers onward from beginning work at the rehearsal bar. "I think the exciting thing about a lot of the mixed repertory programs we do is there's got to be something in there for everyone," Halkowich says. "With Jardi you have this beautiful Spanish music from Catalonia that I think a lot of people can relate to. There's a lot of feeling and emotion in the music, and if your cup of tea is not classical ballet, then this is probably the one for you. And then the Balanchine ballet is Verdi; it's really quick, it's exciting and really uses that extreme classical technique. With those two ballets, you are really getting -everything you would want in dance. And then Etudes is just such a firework."
Houston Ballet: Modern Masters continues 7:30 p.m. March 20 and 21; 2 p.m. March 22. Wortham Theater -Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713‑227‑2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $20 to $195.
Comedian Anjelah Johnson is going on tour this coming summer. Nothing unusual about that, right? Well, actually it won't be Johnson onstage and she won't be doing comedy; it'll be her alter ego Bon Qui Qui, a hip-hop queen with attitude and style to spare, and she'll be singing this. "It's the first time I'm going on the road as a music artist," Johnson tells us. It sounds like the beginning of a new bit, right? Johnson tells us it's legit. Bon Qui Qui, you see, has landed a record deal with Warner Music Nashville and she's just released her first CD, Gold Plated Dreams. Tracks on the album include "I'm a Cut You," "Oh No He Didn't," "No Boyfren" and Securrity."
All of the songs (which are actually quite danceable) and the accompanying music videos (which are seriously funny) are based on Johnson's comedy routines. "No Boyfren," for example, grew out of her nail salon bit featuring a pushy nail technician with a strong Vietnamese accent who repeatedly asks Johnson why she doesn't have a boyfriend. The nail tech promises Johnson that the right manicure is all she needs to rectify the situation. "Securrity" references the time Bon Qui Qui worked as a King Burger cashier and routinely called on security guards to dispatch problematic customers.
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"It's crazy, right?" Johnson, who projects an image as a pretty, if slightly unsophisticated, ghetto-glamorous street thug, when in her Bon Qui Qui character, laughs. "All of these talented musicians are working so hard to try and get a record deal, and Bon Qui Qui, who isn't even a real person, gets signed to a contract."
For her Houston show this Saturday, expect Johnson, who has an enthusiastic Houston following, to discuss her husband ("He's so funny, I have to stop myself from doing the whole hour on him"), the perils of fame (her most recent DVD, The Homecoming Show, premiered on Amazon at a deeply discounted price, never having even been offered at full price) and the genius of tacos (portable, versatile and easily converted into burritos or enchiladas).
7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas. For information, call 713-230-1600 or visit bayoumusiccenter.com. $35.50.
Olivia Flores Alvarez, Ashley Clos, Margaret Downing and Alexandra Doyle contributed to this post.