The 5 Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Houston Ballet's Giselle, "Cosmic Dialogues" and More

Start your weekend off with the story of a broke-hearted peasant girl when the Houston Ballet presents Giselle at Miller Outdoor Theatre on Friday. 

Giselle falls in love with a nobleman and then dies of a broken heart when she discovers he’s already engaged to a member of royalty. Rising from her grave, she becomes one of a group of supernatural women called The Wilis whose hearts have been broken by men and who in return force men to dance till they die. It’s Giselle, a ballet company staple around the world since it was first performed in 1841, and the Houston Ballet has mounted a production for the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Houston Ballet Principal Melody Mennite will make her debut in the title role, after performing in Giselle several other times as one of the ghostly women. The key to Giselle is the fact that she ends up forgiving Duke Albrecht, the man who betrayed her, says Mennite.

“Forgiveness is one of the most powerful things in life and one of the hardest things to do,” says Mennite, who grew up in California and studied ballet as a child (after a brief sidestep into tap) and who came to Houston when she was only 16 to apprentice with the Houston Ballet.

Mennite is well aware of the challenges of dancing at the Miller — “It all depends on what weather we have” — but points out that even at the more easily air-conditioned Wortham, ballet dancers can find themselves drenched in sweat in story productions. The Miller audience won’t be short-changed in story, she says: “We don’t modify any of the steps,” but since the stage is smaller than at the Wortham, the corps de ballet work is a little trickier. “One thing that’s different is the spacing, because the Miller is the smaller stage. It affects the corps the most because they have to make lines and circles.”

8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 281?373-3386 or visit Free.
On Saturday, you’ll have your choice of 100-plus beers, liquors and craft cocktails at the Houston Press BrewFest. Houston beer companies in the mix include 8th Wonder, Buffalo Bayou and Karbach. Coming from other parts of Texas are Alamo Beer Company, B-52 Brewing, Goliad and Real Ale. Hailing from other parts of the United States are Alaskan Brewing Co., Brooklyn Brewery, Estrella Damm, Founders, Southern Tier, Goose Island and Upslope Brewing Company. Anthony Wegman, a general partner of co-sponsor Lucky’s Pub, says beer and liquors won’t be the only attractions at the fourth annual event. Great beers deserve great food, and Doughmaker Doughnuts, Houston Barbecue Company, Raising Cane’s, The House on Washington and multiple local food trucks will all be on hand.

General admission includes eight three-ounce sample cards; additional sample cards can be purchased. VIP admission includes early access to the festival and entry to a VIP area with additional specialty beers and complimentary appetizers provided by Habanera & the Gringo and Ragu & Pesto. We suggest you not wait to buy your tickets. Prices (and the chances of tickets being sold out) go up the closer we get to the event.

Enjoy the Houston Press BrewFest is 3 to 7 p.m. Silver Street Station, 1501 Silver Street. For information, visit $35 to $70.

Eileen Myles’s reading and the Marilyn Minter exhibit really speak as an orchestra together, rather than commenting on each other,” says Daniel Atkinson, education and public projects manager for the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. We have the reading on our "Must-do" list for Saturday. 

The New York poet has been called a “lesbian culture hero” and “a cult figure to a generation of post-punk females.” Fans are excited to have her in Houston to share her work and her perspective on nearly 40 years of writing and commenting on culture and society.

“She’s a very different kind of poet,” says Atkinson, noting that people often think of poetry as something pretty and easy, something vaguely historic. “Her work is raw and to the bone. She’s got a whole level of energy that really shows what poetry can be.”

The exhibit’s commentary on the contradictions in society about femininity and feminine beauty is coupled with Myles’s energy and unwavering eye for human observation. “They both have the same tone: honesty and candor,” says Atkinson. “They are deeply linked.”

2 p.m. Saturday. 5216 Montrose. For information, call 713-284-8250 or visit Free.

Also on Saturday, we recommend 11th Annual Empty Bowls Houston at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Sponsored by Whole Foods and benefiting the Houston Food Bank, Empty Bowls helps feed not only attendees, but the people of Houston for whom hunger is a fact of daily life. A simple lunch of soup and bread is served until it runs out and guests will also be able to select one of over 1,000 bowls donated by Houston area ceramists and craft artists. Enjoy live music and artist demonstrations throughout the day.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 4848 Main. For information, visit $25 minimum donation.

Last summer, hundreds of art lovers moved through the three-dimensional field of suspended spaghetti-like tubes of Jesús Rafael Soto’s gigantic sculpture The Houston Penetrable at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This year, the museum presents a slew of equally spatially inventive works in “Cosmic Dialogues: Selections from the Latin American Art Collection.” The sensory exhibition features nearly 50 sculptures and drawings from modern and contemporary Latin American artists, who take viewers on a series of journeys investigating space, light, motion and a not-so-distant future. It's one of our suggestions for Sunday.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Gyula Kosice’s masterpiece La ciudad hidroespacial (The Hydrospatial City). This room-size installation features Plexiglas pods, scaled models of imagined architectural constructions in outer space where humans might live in a future after the earth has been depleted of water and other natural resources. Each a unique configuration, the models are suspended from the ceiling like a fleet of tiny spinning spaceships. These whimsical pods are joined by drawings and lightboxes from the artist, notably a set of his Constelaciones (Constellations). The mounted, illuminated works feature swirls of dots that provide a cosmic backdrop within the exhibition space. Assistant Curator of Latin American Art Mike Wellen notes that, overall, The Hydrospatial City is “almost a mythical piece in Argentina” (Kosice’s home country). Following its successful MFAH debut in 2009, “We’ve continued to conduct interviews with Kosice about his artistic process, generate new research about the work, conserve and photograph each component of this major acquisition,” Wellen says.

Other must-sees in the exhibition include Venezuelan artist Gego’s delicate and poetic geometric wire sculptures; Gustavo Díaz’s incredibly intricate 2-D and 3-D works that orchestrate densely packed lines and dots into organized chaos to reference fractals, viral theory and more; and a dark room of the exhibition that will be lit only by the glowing works by artists who dare to use light as a medium.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 12:15 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through August 23. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713?639?7300 or visit Free to $15.

Margaret Downing, Alexandra Irrera, Holly Beretto and Phaedra Cook contributed to this post. 
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Olivia Flores Alvarez