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Best Virtual Bets: Dance Films, Zines, and Double the Mozart

The parking lot of the Houston Ballet Center for Dance will be the home of the 3rd Annual Frame x Frame Film Fest.EXPAND
The parking lot of the Houston Ballet Center for Dance will be the home of the 3rd Annual Frame x Frame Film Fest.
Photo by Nic Lehoux, Courtesy of Gensler and Houston Ballet

If you need a safe, socially distanced distraction this weekend, we’ve got a list for you to peruse. From dance film festivals to zine festivals, a country jukebox musical to a thoughtful look back to 1992, there’s a wide variety of virtual activities (and one socially distanced one) this weekend. You're only a mouse click away.

If you think about the best dance sequences in film, chances are – like the good folks over at places ranging from The Washington Post to Vulture – you’ll think of the classic 1952 film Singin’ in the Rain. Well, that’s one you’re sure to see when Houston Ballet’s Center for Dance turns into a drive-in starting tonight, Thursday, November 5, for Frame Dance Productions’ 3rd Annual Frame x Frame Film Fest. The parking lot will play host to the festival’s lineup of films which fall into three categories: dance films made for the screen, behind-the-scenes peeks, and classic films that feature iconic dance numbers like Singin’ in the Rain, White Christmas, and 42nd Street. The festival runs through December 5, and tickets are $10 per vehicle and can be purchased here.

People “struggling to put sense into senselessness and find the justice in what looks like injustice run rabid” take the virtual stage Friday, November 6, when Dirt Dogs Theatre Co. opens its production of Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992. For the work of “confessional-historical theatre” about the beating of Rodney King and subsequent riots, Smith collected nine months’ worth of interviews with hundreds of subjects for “an expression of the eternal search for order in an anarchic world.” Though originally conceived as a one-woman show – a descriptor The New York Times considered so woeful they called it "patently ridiculous" in 1994 – director (and Dirt Dogs artistic director) Malinda L. Beckham will present the “panoramic canvas of a national trauma” with more than 30 local actors. Tickets for the on-demand stream (running through November 21) are pay-what-you-can with a suggested price of $25, and Dirt Dogs will host free Zoom-based talkbacks on November 8, 12, or 19.

Patty Holley as Donna Elvira in the Moores Opera Center production of Don Giovanni.EXPAND
Patty Holley as Donna Elvira in the Moores Opera Center production of Don Giovanni.
Photo by Pin Lim for University of Houston

In oft told (if apocryphal) stories, it is said that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote Don Giovanni, “widely regarded as the greatest opera ever composed,” at the last minute – as in, the-night-before and ranging to the-ink-was-literally-not-dry last minute. On Friday, November 6, and Saturday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts will present the tragicomic masterpiece about a womanizer getting his comeuppance live and in-person outside the Moores Opera Center in the Wilhelmina Grove. Though socially distanced and complete with set, period costumes, and orchestra, those of us more comfortable at home can also enjoy the Buck Ross-directed season opener live on the Moores Opera Center website and their Facebook page. The season will continue this month with a virtual production of Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, which will premiere on Facebook and be available for two weeks. 

Miller Outdoor Theater continues its audience-less virtual performances this weekend on Friday, November 6, at 7:30 p.m. with a livestream of the 41st Annual Festival Chicano, featuring the five-time Grammy Award-winning Little Joe y La Familia. The cultural celebration of Chicano music encompasses styles including the Tejano-stylings of Little Joe y La Familia, corridos, mariachi, conjunto, country, rock and roll, and more. Then on Saturday, November 7, at 7 p.m. Michael Gott, a senior minister at Unity of Houston with 10 albums under his belt, will join the Libi Lebel-led Texas Medical Center Orchestra for Love Can Move the World with Michael Gott. Both events will be available to watch free on the Miller Outdoor Theatre website, their YouTube channel, and Facebook page.

Zine Fest Houston goes digital this weekend for the first time.EXPAND
Zine Fest Houston goes digital this weekend for the first time.
Photo by John Luu

Cyberspace becomes the home of Zine Fest Houston this Saturday, November 7, from noon to 6 p.m. during their inaugural digital festival. Though now online, ZFH is still dedicated to all media and art DIY, including zines, mini-comics, and small press. The theme of this year’s free, six-hour-long programming block, broadcast on the ZFH Twitch channel, is “Germination Station: We’re Broadcasting Seeds, Baby!” and will include interviews with zinesters and creator spotlights, a panel discussion, commercials from ZFH vendors, and throwback ZFH promos. There will even be an after party, and all the programming will be facilitated by the funny folks over at Effin' Rager. Community partners like Doomsday Wrestling and Veggie Mijxs are sure to be in the mix, and you’ll also want to catch the not-one-but-two recipients this year of the shane patrick boyle Memorial Grants for Emerging Zinesters along with a special tribute to boyle.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Houston Symphony’s Music Director, makes his return to the Bayou City after months away to lead the Symphony in two programs this month. First up, classical music lovers can join the Symphony on Saturday, November 7, at 8 p.m. for a livestream of Mozart’s Jupiter . The Jupiter Symphony is Mozart’s last, and the third of a series of three created in about nine weeks (which he started less than a month after the premiere of Don Giovanni). It is acknowledged as complex and virtuosic, and a work in which “Mozart seems intent on showing off his sheer brilliance as a composer.” Rounding out the program is Symphony No. 2 in D major (Overture to L’Amant anonyme) by Chevalier de Saint-Georges and Johann Carl Christian Fischer’s Symphony for Eight Obbligato Timpani, featuring Principal Timpanist Leonardo Soto in a solo debut. Tickets to Saturday night’s livestream are $20 and can be purchased here.

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DACAMERA premieres its first fall recital this weekend, which features Conrad Tao.EXPAND
DACAMERA premieres its first fall recital this weekend, which features Conrad Tao.
Photo by Brantley Gutierrez, Courtesy of Unison Media

This Tuesday, November 10, at 7 p.m. DACAMERA will premiere the first installment of their fall recital series, a performance by Conrad Tao, who The New York Times proclaimed in a headline was “never just another prodigy.” The pianist, “part of the first generation of artists to have been raised on the internet, which has informed his music and relationships, and offered a playground for his omnivorous taste and curiosity,” will display his virtuosity on a program centered around Ludwig van Beethoven’s Tempest sonata. Also on the program are Tao’s own “All I Had Forgotten or Tried To,” along with works by Ruth Crawford Seeger, Tania León, David Lang and Felipe Lara's Black Lives Matter-inspired “Injust Intonations.” The virtual concert is free with registration and will be available to the public for a week after its premiere.

Brooke Wilson in Stages’ production of Honky Tonk Laundry.EXPAND
Brooke Wilson in Stages’ production of Honky Tonk Laundry.
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

Honky Tonk Laundry, shut down by COVID the night it was supposed to open, will finally get its regional premiere on Tuesday, November 10, at 7:30 p.m. when Stages beams the production out live from The Gordy. The Roger Bean-penned musical features music from country queens like Patsy Cline and the recently renamed Chicks, and stars Brooke Wilson and Holland Vavra. The story follows new employee Katie Lane, who encourages laundromat owner Lana Mae to follow her country western dreams. Next thing you know the laundromat is doubling as a honky tonk. For the show, Stages and director Mitchell Greco transformed the Rochelle and Max Levit Stage into a studio for the live broadcasts. Greco told the Houston Pressit’s like what I imagine live TV was like in the '50s,” adding that “even though you're not in the space, it's still live and anything can happen.” Tickets for the production, which runs through November 15, can be purchased for $25 here.

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