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Best Virtual Bets: Bach, Latinx Dance, and Art in the Park

Orlando Arriaga in El Chuco Town Forever, a short play the Alley Theatre opens digitally this week.EXPAND
Orlando Arriaga in El Chuco Town Forever, a short play the Alley Theatre opens digitally this week.
Photo by Victoria Beauray Sagady
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Yes, today is April Fools Day but there are no joke entries on this week’s list of best virtual bets. Instead, let’s look toward another, more obscure non-holiday holiday: International Fun at Work Day. And let us recommend that fun come in the form of an extended break to enjoy one of this week’s digital programs.

Who doesn’t like sneak peeks and spoilers? This Thursday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. you can join Contemporary Arts Museum Houston for an excerpt from “Rule #4: Don’t walk on the sidewalk,” a dance work from Hope Stone Dance that will be presented in full this summer. The virtual performance, filmed at CAMH last fall, features five women – Jacquelyne Boe, Kayla Collymore, Rachael Hutto, Lindsey McGill, and Brit Wallis-McGrath – in an exploration of the societal rules women are encouraged to observe. You can view the work-in-progress for free here, and remember to check back with Hope Stone Dance for the complete work in July.

New company ALAS Dance Company is participating in the 1st Annual Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival.EXPAND
New company ALAS Dance Company is participating in the 1st Annual Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival.
Photo by Pin Lim

Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor of something exciting: The 1st Annual Texas Latino/a/x Contemporary Dance Festival, presented by The Pilot Dance Project. Adam Castañeda, choreographer and director of The Pilot Dance Project, told the Houston Press that the festival will feature old and new works from some of “the most important local Latinx choreographers working right now” including Roberta Cortes, Paty Solórzano, and Joel Aguilera. You can purchase a ticket to the virtual festival, which begins today, April 1, and will be available online through April 10, here for $10. The virtual, evening-length concert will also have an in-person component (a screening and talkback) on Friday, April 9, at 8 p.m. at the P.E.T. Outdoor Theater. You can purchase a ticket to the live component here for $15.

John-Mark McGaha returns to A.D. Players for An Easter Celebration with John-Mark McGaha and Piper Jones.
John-Mark McGaha returns to A.D. Players for An Easter Celebration with John-Mark McGaha and Piper Jones.
Photo by Amy Boyle

If it wasn’t obvious that the A.D. Players and Houston audiences loved John-Mark McGaha before, it should be now. McGaha has been a bit of an A.D. Players staple this pandemic with an appearance at the 2020 After Dinner Affair, a holiday concert with Patrick Thomas, and don’t forget McGaha singing Stevie Wonder last fall. Opening Thursday, April 1 – in time for Easter weekend – McGaha returns to the “Gospel at The George” virtual stage for An Easter Celebration with John-Mark McGaha and Piper Jones. You may have caught McGaha and Jones’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art” during the After Dinner Affair and if you did, you know exactly what kind of vocal prowess you’re in for this month. The concert will be available to stream through April 18. You can purchase a ticket for $35 here.

Briana Resa in El Chuco Town Forever, a short play the Alley Theatre opens digitally this week.EXPAND
Briana Resa in El Chuco Town Forever, a short play the Alley Theatre opens digitally this week.
Photo by Victoria Beauray Sagady

The first of five contemporary plays to grace the Alley Theatre’s virtual stage this spring will begin streaming on Friday, April 2. Isaac Gómez’s El Chuco Town Forever is about two employees at work at a big box store near the El Paso Wal-Mart, where a gunman shot and killed 23 people (and injured 23 more) in August 2019, grapple with whether or not to go to the memorial service. Director Laura Moreno says of the eight-minute play, “I hope it’s a reminder that once the news stops, these people still have to go on living and this kind of grief lasts forever.” The play is free with registration here. Also, on Friday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m. the Alley will host a Cuentos y Charlas discussion event about the play moderated by Tony Diaz, the host of Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say.

Midtown Houston takes their annual Art in the Park virtual.
Midtown Houston takes their annual Art in the Park virtual.
Screen shot courtesy of Midtown Houston

Art in the Park goes virtual on Saturday, April 3, at 10 a.m. when Midtown Houston takes its signature event from Elizabeth Baldwin Park to Facebook. Like the yearly in-person event, held on the first Saturday of April, the online celebration of the local art community will also feature more than 40 local artists; musical acts like Nick Gaitan, Vanguard Collective, and Woody Witt Trio; and interactive activities such as a vision-board-making activity and henna at home. You will also see videos of the park and Midtown landmarks to set the scene you may be missing from home. Myra Johnson, the CEO of Ephesus Investments, will emcee the events, which you can enjoy free.

Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong joins an all-Bach program at the Houston Symphony.EXPAND
Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong joins an all-Bach program at the Houston Symphony.
Photo by Dario Acosta

Celebrate Easter with Johann Sebastian Bach and the Houston Symphony this Saturday, April 3, at 8 p.m. when the Symphony presents A Bach Easter live from Jones Hall. Of the four Bach pieces on the program, two are cantatas: Cantata No. 51 (“Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen”), a “virtuosic showcase” shared between soprano Yulia Van Doren and Principal Trumpet Mark Hughes, and excerpts from Cantata No. 170 (Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust) with mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong performing the alto solo part. Conductor and Baroque specialist Jane Glover will lead the orchestra in the program, which also features solo turns for Concertmaster Yoonshin Song, Principal Oboe Jonathan Fischer, and Principal Flute Aralee Dorough. You can purchase tickets to the livestream for $20 here.


Houston Jewish Film Festival: The Sequel
begins on Sunday, April 4 with a weekend run of My Name is Sara. The 2019 film is based on the true story of a young Jewish girl, the mother of executive producer Mickey Shapiro, who adopted the identity of a Christian friend after Nazis killed her family in 1942. You can purchase a ticket to view the film here for $10. Future films in the series include a documentary about the contributions of some of Hollywood’s most famous directors to the war effort in Hollywood’s II. World War, a drama about a conductor trying to create an Israeli-Palestinian orchestra, and No Lions in Tel Aviv, a documentary about a man dubbed Rabbi Doolittle.

Dr. Peter J. Hotez looks toward the future during Preventing the Next Pandemic: A Conversation with Dr. Peter Hotez and Helen Branswell, presented by The Health Museum.EXPAND
Dr. Peter J. Hotez looks toward the future during Preventing the Next Pandemic: A Conversation with Dr. Peter Hotez and Helen Branswell, presented by The Health Museum.
Photo by Agapito Sanchez, Baylor College of Medicine

One speaker, Helen Branswell, is a global health reporter who has covered epidemics ranging from measles to Ebola and now leads coronavirus reporting at STAT. The other speaker, Dr. Peter J. Hotez, is the founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and is literally doing research work on the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. If you have questions about the role of COVID-19 vaccines and the lessons we should be learning for the future, these are the folks you want to hear from on Wednesday, April 7, at 9 a.m. during Preventing the Next Pandemic: A Conversation with Dr. Peter Hotez and Helen Branswell. You can join the Zoom-based presentation, hosted by The Health Museum, here. Tickets are pay what you can, starting at free.

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