Diavolo company members in Fluid Infinities
Diavolo company members in Fluid Infinities
Photo by Alexander Slanger

The 5 Best Things You Can Do in Houston This Weekend: Diavolo, Hot Box Girls and More

Jacques Heim's Diavolo dance company has an unusual tagline: "Architecture in Motion." The phrase eloquently describes Heim's fusion of industrial set pieces with concert dance. In town on Friday for a one-night stand courtesy of the Society for the Performing Arts, Diavolo has two dramatic works on the bill, Fluid Infinities and Trajectoire.

Originally created for the Hollywood Bowl and commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Fluid Infinities is set to Philip Glass's Symphony No 3. In it, company members dive, slide and propel themselves through crater-like holes in a 1,600-pound dome sitting onstage that looks like the moon. The work investigates our connection with space and time. Trajectoire also features a large set-piece with a giant, rocking ship onstage. The performers (dancers, gymnasts and actors) take the audience on a suspense-filled voyage.

The French-born artistic director Jacques Heim founded Diavolo in 1992. Since the emergence of his Los Angeles-based company, he's choreographed for notable shows such as Cirque du Soleil's Kà.

8 p.m. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑227‑4772 or visit spahouston.org. $28 to $70.

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The 5 Best Things You Can Do in Houston This Weekend: Diavolo, Hot Box Girls and More

Expect to sit onstage when the Hot Box Girls present the Houston premiere of their musical Crown Jewels on Saturday. In town for a one-night two-show run, the group was founded by native Texan Rebecca Greenstein. Originally performing in operas and musical theater, Greenstein started the burlesque troupe after a stint in an opera. "I was cast in a production of Mozart's The Impresario," she tells us. "The libretto was rewritten as a 1930s comedy and my character's role was changed from an opera diva to a burlesque diva. I had to research the art of burlesque for my character." Greenstein liked what she found.

Crown Jewels is set in the late 1920s and incorporates "the song-and-dance era of vaudeville with a fun story line." When asked about the choice to have the audience sit onstage during the performance, Rebecca explains, "Much of what we do onstage works best in an intimate setting, and you can't get much more intimate than having the audience onstage with you."

7 and 9:30 p.m. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713‑227‑4772 or visit spahouston.org. $63 to $125.

It's a bit of a drive to see "Texas Abstract: Modern / Contem- porary," on display at the Galveston Arts Center, but it's worth the trip. Especially since there's an opening reception on Saturday. (Translate: free wine.) The exhibit is curated by Michael Paglia and Jim Edwards and based on their book of the same name. Paglia and Edwards hold that while historic Texas artists were most often part of their local scenes, abstract artists in the state were a significant force on the international scene. There are 20 paintings from the book (it has more than 200 color images) in the exhibit, which, although small, clearly traces the significant and important role that Texans played in the development and success of abstract art. Artists featured include Ibsen Espada, Roberta Harris, Howard Sherman and Liz Ward.

The exhibit opens on Friday although the opening reception with an artist panel discussion is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday (January 17). Regular viewing hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through February 22. 2501 Market Street, Galveston. For information, call 409‑763‑2403 or visit galvestonartscenter.org. Free.

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Former Houstonian Steve Tyrell
Former Houstonian Steve Tyrell
Photo by Julie Soefer

Steve Tyrell has 15 tracks on his upcoming CD, That Lovin' Feeling, an unusually large number of tunes for a contemporary release. (The CD is made up of classic R&B songs from the early 1960s.) "I had wanted 16," he tells us, laughing. "There are just so many great songs out there. It isn't hard to find songs to record; the problem is deciding what to leave out."

Music from That Lovin' Feeling is at the center of Tyrell's new show, a sort of biographical concert, which he brings to Galveston's Grand 1894 Opera House on Sunday. "I left Houston in 1964, right out of high school," he says. "This show is the story of this kid going to New York, getting in the middle of this [music scene], and all the people he became friends with." Those friends read like a Who's Who of pop music. Along with former Houstonians Joe Sample and B.J. Thomas, there's Stevie Wonder, Aaron Neville, Burt Bacharach and Elvis Presley.

Each song in the show has a little something personal about it, a connection between Tyrell and the songwriter or original singer. "You can't just do a whole bunch of songs; you have to have some reason for doing them." Along with the title track, there's "Good Good Lovin'," "Chapel of Love" and "Rock and Roll Lullaby." B.J. Thomas, who first made "Lullaby" famous, joins him on the track. "Oh man, that song made me cry because me and B.J. went through so much together back in the day."

There's also "Hound Dog," a nod to Presley, one of Tyrell's friends. Among Presley's biggest hits was "Suspicious Minds," a tune by Mark James that Thomas had recorded on one of his earliest albums. "About a year after that, [James, Thomas and I] all became friends with Elvis and he did it."

4 p.m. The Grand 1894 Opera House, 2020 Postoffice Street, Galveston. For information, call 800‑821‑1894 or visit thegrand.com. $20 to $100.

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The Apollo Chamber Players
The Apollo Chamber Players
Photo by Jeff Myers

Also on Sunday, the Apollo Chamber Players, winners of a 2014 Houston Press Masterminds Award, present "East and West Transcended." The concert showcases the French Impressionist movement and the reaction it sparked in Japanese music. "One of the ideas we wish to explore in this program is how composers from different countries -- different hemispheres, in fact -- influence one another," said Matthew Detrick, artistic director, co-founder and violinist for the Apollo Chamber Players.

"The connections between French Impressionist and Japanese composers have been fairly well researched, but we hope to illustrate composers transcending the boundaries of their respective countries in the creation of new music." The program includes works by French composers Debussy and Ravel along with Japanese composers Rentaro Taki, Hitomi Komatsu and Toru Takemitsu. There's also a world premiere of "Splash of Indigo," a commissioned work by American composer Marty Regan, who has written extensively for Japanese instruments and explored Japanese idioms throughout his career.

Regan's piece specifically looks at the intersection between French and Japanese musical traditions. "Inspired by a workshop in indigo design and dyeing taken in Japan, 'Splash of Indigo' explores the intersections between Japanese folk music and French Impressionism filtered through a distinct American sensibility," said Regan."One of the goals in this work is to transcend and blur musical boundaries while celebrating the similarities and potential correspondences between disparate musical traditions. The overall effect is quite subtle as various musical languages are fused together into one hybrid musical vision."

The work by Taki, "Moon Over Ruined Castle," is a particularly important bridge between Western and Japanese music, as it was the first Japanese equivalent of the lied, or art song. "At our concert, listeners should definitely hear impressionist qualities in the Japanese works, particularly in Takemitsu's 'Between the Tides' piano trio," said Detrick. "This work was written very late in the composer's life, and you can hear the unmistakable influence of his French composer counterparts. The music is evocative, undulating and intriguingly multi-hued."

6 p.m. Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Boulevard. For information, visit apollochamberplayers.org. $30.

Ashley Clos and Alexandra Doyle contributed to this post.

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