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21 Best Things to Do in Houston This Week: Edgy Dance and Woodlands IRONMAN

Society for the Performing Arts presents the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (pictured) on Friday, April 21.EXPAND
Society for the Performing Arts presents the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (pictured) on Friday, April 21.
Photo by Sharen Bradford
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Tuesday, April 18

Talk about stepping outside one’s comfort zone. After Argentinian-born Daniel Proietto (a dancer with the Norway-based touring company winter guests) trained with the “Balanchine of the kabuki world,” Alan Lucien Øyen (the troupe’s choreographer/director) knew he wanted to incorporate those Japanese aesthetics into a new dance. The sparks really flew when Øyen discovered the 77-year-old Japanese-born flamenco dancer Shoji Kojima. “We fell in love with him as a person, as a dancer. When we started to dig deeper, we saw a lot of similarities [in the dances].” During CounterCurrent17, presented by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Simulacrum makes its U.S. premiere, telling the tragic story of the adopted Kojima’s lifelong search for identity through music, shadow play and costume. Øyen says the first act has “elements of kabuki, flamenco and contemporary dance, and then the second act is kind of a purist kabuki piece. It’s quite sensational.” 7 p.m. April 18 with an opening reception at 6. Continuing 7 p.m. April 19 and 20. The MATCH, 3400 Main. For information, call 713-521-4533 or visit countercurrentfestival.org. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Physics, engineering and space exploration nerds unite: The Houston Symphony’s third installation of its National Geographic Live lecture series is taking us beyond the moon and all the way to Mars. Kobie Boykins, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will talk about his work to send rovers to the Red Planet and what it took to get them there. Of course, he’ll also have some lavishly illustrated presentations to add to the evening’s thrill. “The story is about how we engineered the rovers to get to the surface of Mars. It’s not the science story,” says Boykins. “It’s more about how we designed them and engineered them to work effectively on the surface of Mars.” Plus, find out about the mysterious “six minutes of terror,” and maybe Boykins will spill the beans about life on Mars during Exploring Mars: The Next Generation. 7:30 p.m. April 18. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $15 to $65. — Sam Byrd

Wednesday, April 19

For the annual iteration of Ten Tiny Dances®, the dancers and choreographers are challenged both by the four-foot stage and with keeping the performances fresh for viewers. The organizers (the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts) are playing with scale this year, contrasting the tiny stage with the cavernous, old former downtown post office, but that allows for plenty of room for audience members (most of whom will be standing). This year’s slate brings Tiny newbie Connor Walsh, principal dancer for the Houston Ballet, who found the venue inspiring; he’s debuting a new piece of choreography and was still trying to work out whether it should be for one dancer or two (certainly not more). It will be the first time doing a Tiny Dance in the Bayou City for Austin-based Charles O. Anderson; his duet is an excerpt from an evening-length piece inspired by American composer Steve Reich. The program also includes a dance by H-Town-born and -raised Courtney D. Jones, who has logged time on Broadway’s touring production of Wicked and now serves on the faculty at The High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Come early at 7 p.m. for a reception sponsored by Saint Arnold Brewing Company. 8 p.m. April 19. Post HTX, 401 Franklin. For information, visit countercurrentfestival.org. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Each year, River Oaks’ fancy ladies dip into their closets, pull out barely worn name-brand clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry, and donate the goods. A diligent team of volunteers then hauls literal tons of textiles and shopping opps to a collection site formerly known as Baker Furniture, where the “Reflections on Style” Chic Boutique Showroom Sale, featuring goods by Prada, Escada, Chanel, Gucci, Tahari, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and more, goes off. “A $1,000 suit might be $80,” says media specialist Kathryn Smith, who adds that the annual sale only offers up women’s clothes (but that could change in the future), and that last year’s shindig brought in nearly $1 million for The Salvation Army of Greater Houston. 5 to 8 p.m. April 19. Continuing 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 20 and 21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 22. Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Chic Boutique, 1111 Uptown Park, Suite 120. For information, visit salvationarmyhouston.org. Free to $20. — Steve Jansen

Thursday, April 20

Bzzzzt. Bzzzzt. What's that buzzing, you ask? Spring training is over and it's opening day for your defending 2016 Atlantic League champions, those feisty Sugar Land Skeeters, coming out of the dugout for a seven-game homestand against the Bridgeport Bluefish. First-day perks include giveaways for a replica ring and magnet schedules, postgame fireworks and a first look at those new to the swarm: pitchers Brett Marshall, Andrew Johnston, Bobby Blevins and Felipe Paulino; catcher Chase Peterson; and infielders Anthony Giansanti and Chris Nelson. Fan support is even easier with new on-field host Jessica Munoz, more videos, a wider music selection and some brand-spanking-new fascia video boards. It looks like concession-stand prices haven't gone up, so be sure to chow down on smoked sausages with fried jalapenos, the oh-so messy (but oh-so good) brisket-topped fries, and that "only in Texas" sweet and spicy chopped steak with fresh fruit, chili and lime. Come out and take a selfie with the unnaturally green Swatson, who was named 2016's Minor League Mascot of the Year. 7:05 p.m. April 20. Continuing 7:05 p.m. April 21, 24 and 26; 6:05 p.m. April 22; 2:05 p.m. April 23; 12:05 p.m. April 25. Constellation Field, 1 Stadium Drive, Sugar Land. For information, call 281-240-4487 or visit sugarlandskeeters.com. $9 to $55. — Susie Tommaney

Think MacGyver, but for the arts. Visual artist Kevin Beasley takes odd bits of machinery, obsolete technologies and the flotsam and jetsam of studio life to create sculptures that channel energy. For Movement V: Ballroom — part of CounterCurrent 17, presented by the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts — Beasley drew inspiration from the Eldorado Ballroom to create 16 modular pieces in which footsteps create vibrations that feed into software that translates movement into light. “It’s so much about the people that have come through, not just the performers, but the people that have come to see the performances, the dancers, the people within the community,” says Beasley. After experiencing the exhibition, come back at 8 p.m. Saturday when Beasley becomes one with the machine for a one-night-only performance. An opening reception is 7 to 9 p.m. April 20. Also noon to 8 p.m. April 18-23. 2310 Elgin. For information, visit countercurrentfestival.org. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Just weeks after presenting the music of Spain, the Houston Symphony continues its musical journey through Europe with a tour of Italy in The Pines of Rome, featuring guest conductor Vasily Petrenko and violinist Elina Vähälä. Verdi’s overture to Un giorno di regno and John Corigliano’s The Red Violin Concerto, based on the Oscar-winning film score, will set the table for Ottorino Respighi’s expertly paired companion pieces, The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome. “The composer painted such a vivid picture,” says Rebecca Zabinski, Houston Symphony artistic administrator. “The orchestra takes you on such a journey. It’s not intimidating. It’s not challenging for the ear. This is the perfect music for someone coming for the fist time.” 8 p.m. April 20 and April 22, 2:30 p.m. April 23. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $136. — Sam Byrd

Friday, April 21

Executive director Jean-Philippe Malaty doesn’t blame you for assuming his company is all pointe work and toe shoes — ballet is in the name, after all — but Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is a contemporary ballet company; the three commissioned works on the program for the Wortham are influenced by hip-hop, Latin dance, ballroom, Broadway and pop singers. “We believe ballet is a living art form,” says Malaty. “We believe the sheer visceral power of dance can make people happy or move them emotionally.” So expect to laugh as dancers decked out in red groove to Xavier Cugat and Pérez Prado in Cayetano Soto’s Huma Rojo, and think as Cherice Barton uses cuts, montage, sound mixing and voiceover to explore happiness in Eudaemonia. And, Malaty notes, “[it’s] not unusual for us to see a grown man coming [out at] intermission and crying” after viewing Alejandro Cerrudo’s poetic Silent Ghost. 8 p.m. April 21. 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. $43 to $103. — Natalie de la Garza

What were you doing at age 12? Cutting your second record overall and first for the heavy-hitting jazz label Impulse! Records? Don’t feel down — not everyone can be Denardo Coleman, son of the late Fort Worth native and “free jazz” inventor Ornette Coleman. The drummer, now a full-grown adult, will be joined by Houston natives Chris Walker (bass) and Jason Moran (piano), who’s also the artistic director for jazz at the Kennedy Center, for the latest installment of Da Camera JAM, a partnership with Discovery Green that presents jazz-centric groups throughout April in honor of Jazz Appreciation Month. “We’re super excited,” says Lauren Mitchell, Discovery Green marketing manager. “They’re a pretty great act, and that’s one of the cool things about this partnership.” The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Jazz Ensemble opens. 6:30 p.m. April 21. 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. Free. — Steve Jansen

After the Foundation for Modern Music brought in Jade Simmons to perform at its annual anti-bullying festival, executive director Paul Boyd knew that he wanted to work with the talented pianist again. “We always want to collaborate with somebody new,” says Boyd. “I can’t think of the last time we didn’t do that.” Simmons will perform a tribute to jazz pianist Lillette Harris with the new single “The Flight,” which is based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” while Urban Souls dances to Harrison Guy’s choreography during Music That Should Be Danced. The collaborative music and dance event will include participation by Greenbriar Consortium, Houston Symphony musicians, Meyerland Middle School’s Dance Department, Multicultural Education Counseling through the Arts and FMM’s Avalon Ensemble. “We have African, Asian, classical, Hawaiian, hip-hop, Mexican and jazz idioms inspiring new choreography,” says Boyd. 8 p.m. April 21. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 281-823-9103 or visit modernmusic.org. Free. — Steve Jansen

The more Martha Redbone presented the interdisciplinary Bone Hill — The Concert, which features William Blake’s poetry set to Appalachian mountain music, the more she realized she was telling the stories of countless other family histories. The theatrical concert, commissioned by Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater and presented by Lott Entertainment, follows a family through four generations during and after the Indian Removal Act of 1830. “Most people don’t associate Appalachian mountain music with people of color, let alone people of color living in Appalachia,” explains Redbone, of Cherokee, Shawnee, Choctaw and African-American descent. “We thought there would be an interesting story to share with everybody since my family had been there since the beginning of time. It’s a story that’s always been there but nobody knows.” 8 p.m. April 21 and April 22. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $37 to $47. — Steve Jansen

Loch Waterway Monster? No telling what you'll see during this weekend's Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas, but the scenery will be beautiful.EXPAND
Loch Waterway Monster? No telling what you'll see during this weekend's Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas, but the scenery will be beautiful.
Photo by Donald Miralle/IRONMAN®

Saturday, April 22

Runners pray for temps in the 40s and swimmers aim for the higher numbers, but we checked the projections and it looks like there's a swimmer's advantage during this year's IRONMAN® in The Woodlands. With temperatures estimated to range from the high 60s to almost 80 degrees, any humidity means it's still going to be a struggle for those athletes braving the course during the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas. So show some H-Town love and help keep these dedicated athletes motivated and hydrated. There's no denying the beauty of hosting city The Woodlands, and we'll be counting on lots of shade from those mature trees. It begins with a 2.4-mile swim in Lake Woodlands that goes from North Shore Park to Town Green Lake; that's followed by a double-loop, out and back 112-mile bike ride through east Texas. When lesser mortals would be ready to call it quits, these stalwarts keep it going with a 26.2-mile run that finishes at Waterway Avenue. Best places to watch? Along the Lake Woodlands Parkway Bridge and along the canal near the stairs by Grogan's Mill (swim), along Lake Robbins (bike) and near the restaurants close to Waterway Avenue (run). 5:30 a.m. to midnight April 22. The Woodlands. For information, visit ironman.com. Free to watch. — Susie Tommaney

Houston Grand Opera has finally arrived at Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods), the finale of composer Richard Wagner’s four-part epic about the gods and their ultimate downfall. Siegfried (Simon O’Neill) and Brünnhilde (Christine Goerke) have spent the night together, and he gives her the ring he stole so long ago from the greedy Alberich. Returning as Alberich, bass-baritone Christopher Purves has a smaller part than in Das Rheingold, but in a pivotal scene with his son, Hagen, he urges him to get the ring back and protect his father’s legacy. In obliging, Hagen initiates proceedings that ultimately result in death and the end of Valhalla. “I think people will come to see it because we still have a fascination with things that are larger than life,” Purves says. “It’s stories of the gods, mythology that still excites us. We want something bigger than our lives.” Speaking of bigger, running time is an estimated five and a half hours with two intermissions, so evening performances begin at 6 p.m., much earlier than usual. Sung in German with projected English translations. 6 p.m. Saturdays, Tuesday, Thursday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Through May 7. Wortham Center, 501 Texas. For information call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $20 to $385.75. — Margaret Downing

Life met art when Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard was called on to score Fox’s Shots Fired, a new crime drama that examines the criminal justice system after a pair of racially charged shootings in a small Southern town; the ten-hour event series stars Sanaa Lathan (Blade), Stephan James (Race, Selma) and Helen Hunt as the state’s governor. But this week it’s time for some straight-up groove when Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective brings its fusion of funk, R&B and blues through Texas on a three-city tour, stopping in Houston courtesy of Da Camera. Blanchard should have plenty of material to pull from when he takes the stage along with guitarist Charles Altura, pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Donald Ramsey and drummer Oscar Seaton; Blanchard has delivered a hefty portfolio of original jazz and has composed more than 50 soundtracks. Get ready to get down and come early; at 7:15 p.m. catch a pre-concert convo with Blanchard and Jason Moran. 8 p.m. April 22. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $42.50 to $72.50. — Susie Tommaney

A little striptease never hurt anybody. Burlesque is back and better than ever with the Bayou City Burlesque & Circus Arts Festival. The international burlesque, circus and sideshow festival brings together 21 titillating performances over two acts, including belly dance, contortion, jugglers, fearless sideshow acts, burlesque striptease dancers, vaudeville entertainers, magicians, sexy clowns and acrobats. “There’s a lot going on,” producer and host Kiki Maroon says. “There’s sexy, slow burlesque, and then there’s a weird sideshow. Then, we go into a can-can girl [number] where you only see her dress. She’s wearing only a crystal headpiece. It’s all these types of art, and it’s super-fun.” 7:30 p.m. April 22. Warehouse Live, 813 Saint Emanuel. For information, visit bcbcfestival.com. $20 to $75. — Sam Byrd

Sunday, April 23

Catch the Red Line this weekend and you might see something other than commuters obsessed with smartphones. Frame Dance Productions is sending out its most extroverted dancers, also called framers, to perform on Houston's METRORail between the Medical Center and downtown Houston. The METROdances are free, but you'll have to buy a ticket to ride the METRO; it's so worth it because they're bringing along traveling trumpets and a brass quintet. What's it all about? Well, in addition to showcasing new music by living composers (we'll hear an original composition by Charles Halka), the framers also want our car-centric community to get out and learn more about the METRO system. Sounds good to us. 5 to 6 p.m. April 22 and 23. Performances begin at Dryden/TMC and end with a picnic at Market Square Park; start off at Hermann Park or join in anywhere along the Red Line. For information, visit framedance.org. Free. — Susie Tommaney

Siegfried is a “rodeo Romeo”; Brünnhilde, his cowgirl betrothed. The Rhinemaidens are synchronized swimmers, and the Norn triplets offer a barnyard alternative to Tammy, singing “Hog-Tie Your Man.” In Houston Grand Opera’s Das Barbecü, Wagner’s not in Valhalla anymore — he’s in Texas. The musical comedy condenses 15 hours of Ring Cycle into two and a half of twangy Texas country with a few “cheeky little winks to Ring fans,” says music director (and HGO assistant conductor) Patrick Harvey. “It feels different only in that it is such a different time and place, and the characters perhaps interact with each other in ways they wouldn’t in the mythical setting because they are acting with each other like Texans, and Texans are a very specific breed.” Sure to lure that specific breed? Each ticket includes a barbecue dinner and drink. 7 p.m. April 23. Jackson Street Barbecue, 209 Jackson. Also 7 p.m. April 30. Neon Boots Dancehall & Saloon, 11410 Hempstead. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $40. — Natalie de la Garza

“Printmaking is one of the oldest art forms in the world,” says Katherine Rhodes Fields, president of the Houston-based PrintMatters. “We’re all part of printmaking — every time you spend a dollar bill, every time you stamp something — that’s a print. The very first prints have been dated by art historians as the cave paintings!” PrintMatters’ seventh annual steamroller festival, the six-hour Rockin’ Rollin’ Prints, is free to the public and hosts artists and onlookers alike. “When you walk into the gates, you’ll see a bustle of artists, [hand-carved] three-by-five-foot wood blocks, printmaking professors from across Texas and a big steamroller,” says Fields. Houston’s favorite brew house will also have plenty of fermentables on tap. “People can purchase a commemorative pint glass,” Fields says, adding with a laugh: “My personal favorite at Saint Arnold’s is the Lawnmower, but my boyfriend likes the Elissa IPA.” 10 a.m April 23. Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons. For information, visit printmattershouston.org. — Vic Shuttee

Winter Miller’s In Darfur poses the question “If this were Germany in 1943, what would you do?” exploring genocide through the eyes of a reporter looking for a story; the Darfuri teacher who becomes her subject; and an aid worker just trying to save lives. Each performance features a special “Act II”: talkbacks with local organizations like the Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees, so audiences can “turn their emotion into information at least, and action if they desire,” explains director Troy Scheid. “When I think about the play in general, yes, there are scary parts and emotional parts. But when we remind ourselves in the theater that scary things can happen, it prepares us better to take care of each other.” 3 p.m. April 23. Continuing 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 3 p.m. Saturdays. April 23 through May 13. The Landing Theatre Company, 1119 Providence. For information, call 562-502-7469 or visit landingtheatre.org. Pay what you can to $75; suggested price is $25. — Natalie de la Garza

It's the last day to catch this sleek and sexy dual exhibit over at the Art Car Museum. Houston-based sculptor Tim Glover teaches at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and has exhibited his art works far and wide. In "Working in the Margins," he presents a series of new, whimsical steel sculptures that reference art history and industrial processes, all loaded with double entendre and genial good humor. It's a nice fit for the museum, and pairs well with the abstract drawings by Randall McCabe in "Drawings From the Equinox"; the Navy veteran has stayed busy since 1997 working as the shop supervisor for the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Rice University. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. February 25 through April 23. 140 Heights Boulevard. For information, call 713-861-5526 or visit artcarmuseum.com. Free. — Tex Kerschen

Monday, April 24

Launched in 1961, Worldfest-Houston found a permanent home thanks to some good ol’ Texas oil boys who wanted to bring the independent international festival to Houston. “They’d hit me on my arm and say, ‘Hunnah, you gotta come to Houston!’” says Hunter Todd, WorldFest chairman and founding director. After five years of bruises, Todd relented and moved the festival to the Bayou City in 1978. The annual event has since discovered stars like Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee, and this year celebrates its 50th year as a competitive festival. WorldFest hosts films in ten different categories, including Internet and TV productions — more than the Cannes Film Festival, Todd quickly notes. He boasts: “Here we are at WorldFest showing brand-new movies no one’s heard of, directed by nobodies, starring nobodies, that could be the next Spielberg, George Lucas or Ang Lee.” Various times. April 21-30, AMC Studio 30, 2949 Dunvale. For information, call 713-965-9955 or visit worldfest.org. $7.50 to $750. — Katricia Lang

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