Amalia Hernandez grew up in Mexico wanting to dance, but violins and pianos put her to sleep. So she looked for musical inspiration in the fields of her father's farm, where she heard native musicians plucking tiny homemade guitars, requintos and harps -- the instruments that led her to try more indigenous dance forms and start her own company, Ballet Folklórico de México.Forty-one years later, Hernandez's company performs throughout the world, presenting a mix of Mexican dance, music, religion and culture to diverse audiences. Ballet Folklórico combines meditative, spiritual dances with more festive ones, culminating in a parade of movement akin to a dance aficionado's tour across Mexico.Society for the Performing Arts presents the 60-member Ballet Folklórico de México in "Navidades: A Christmas Celebration," a dance-and-music extravaganza that blends Mexican Christmas traditions with more familiar Bible stories. In the work, Jesus, Joseph and Mary meet dancers and mariachi musicians, transporting the audience from Jones Hall to the streets of Mexico City. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, December 7. 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit www.spahouston.org. $20 to $50. -- Christie Taylor
You might as well stay in H-town
Given that he's one of the most influential Broadway producers of the past five decades, it's not surprising that Stuart Ostrow has an attitude. When asked why he created the Musical Theatre Lab, he says, "This will be, artistically, the worst season for musicals in recent Broadway history -- and the best at the box office. There is a major, major crime going on. What saves me from the slough of despond and keeps me believing in the power of theater? The Musical Theatre Lab at the University of Houston." Damn! Who would have guessed that a UH production featuring excepts from three musicals in progress would have the power to save the world from piss-poor Broadway productions? 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6. Zilkha Hall in the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit www.uniquelyhouston.org. $5 to $7. -- Keith Plocek
Put ’Em Up, Billie
With a honey-toned voice and an ear for finding something new in old standards, Luciana Souza has won many fans as a vocalist. But she's also a reflective artist who delves deeply into ideas of influence and origin. She's interpreted the poetry of American expatriate Elizabeth Bishop, the bossa nova of her native Brazil and, most recently, those old jazz standards -- even though they've been all but claimed by some of the most famous jazz vocalists of all time. You can hear her take on the spirit of Billie Holiday when she performs in town this week. 8 p.m. Friday, December 5. Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit www.dacamera.com. $25 to $40. -- Lisa Simon
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Blitzen Is a Dyke
What makes Dasher so dashing? Is Vixen a porn star? Is Cupid the only gay reindeer, or have some of the others been known to rub antlers from time to time? Find out the answers to these questions and more at The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, a play by Jeff Goode. 8 p.m. Thursday, December 4, through Sunday, December 21. Theatre New West, 1415 California. For showtimes, call 713-522-2204. $15. -- Keith Plocek