The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Aerial Acts and Lots of Love

Expect a stunning blend of music, puppetry, aerial acts, brilliant lighting and overall wonder in TORUK: The First Flight, Cirque du Soleil’s signature spin on James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar, one of our picks for this Friday. “It’s a combination of the abstract and the concrete,” says Dustin Walston, one of the show’s performers. “Audiences who’ve seen the movie should expect to fall in love with some new characters, as well as see their favorites. Anyone who hasn’t seen Avatar is just in for a thrill.” TORUK takes place 1,000 years before the events in Avatar, before any humans ever set foot on Pandora. The inhabitants believe in harmony and the interconnectedness of all living things. But when a natural catastrophe threatens to destroy the sacred Tree of Souls, two boys embark on a quest to save their community. Forty video projectors help tell the story, while tracking devices embedded in costumes trigger special effects at key moments.

4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 1:30 and 5 p.m. Sunday. Through February 14. Toyota Center, 1510 Polk. For information, call 713-758-7200 or visit cirquedusoleil.com/toruk. $45 to $115. 

It’s the day after Troy has been taken by Greek armies. All the Trojan men are dead and the surviving women, now slaves, are about to be distributed to the various conquering kings and soldiers. In The Trojan Women, our other recommendation for this Friday night, Obsidian Theater explores those moments when formerly free people are enslaved by more powerful forces, of families being destroyed and treated like chattel. “The women are sitting there thinking, ‘I’m about to be given to this person or that person.’ We see them tell [bits] of their stories, how they got to this point,” says Tom Stell, who directs. “This story is a classic Greek tragedy, but there’s no Greek chorus. The other day, one of the women in the cast said, ‘Except for this being Troy, all of this happened to [African-Americans].’ And it did.” The mostly African-American, female cast is led by Qamara Black, who plays Hecuba, the former queen of Troy. She earned a Houston Theater Awards best actress nod for her work in Obsidian’s Ruined in 2014. Stell says that the story is difficult, but also cathartic. “Ultimately, it’s about the indomitable spirit of people no matter what.”

8 p.m. Friday. Continues 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Through March 5. 3522 White Oak. For information, call 832-889-7837 or visit obsidiantheater.org. $20 to $30. 

We meet. We talk. We exchange information ranging from the mundane to the catastrophic. It takes minutes, no more. And then we do something else. Abandoning the normal narrative story structure, playwright Caryl Churchill instead re-created these familiar life patterns in a 57-part series of vignettes in Love and Information, and we're looking forward to its regional debut at Main Street Theater this Saturday. Houston director and actor Philip Hays directs, and says taking on this task was like solving a puzzle. “We meet these pairs of people. We see them connect to each other. Their relationships are all varied. We see something happen to them and then we move on.” The play puts equal emphasis on love and information, and Hays says the work doesn’t see one as being better than the other, uplifting the concept of both as generally good, “although the audience may disagree. It’s a 21st-century way of relating to things.” Each of the 13 cast members takes on several roles in the one-act, 90-minute production.

7:30 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Through March 5. Main Street Theater — Rice Village, 2540 Times. For information, call 713-524-6706 or visit mainstreettheater.com. $36 to $39. 

METdance’s “DUO” gives Valentine’s Day weekend a whirl, with an intimate evening of classical and contemporary dance duets, which we think is a lovely way to spend Saturday or Sunday. “It’s about how the dynamic between two people shifts depending on what they are talking about or doing,” says Artistic Director Marlana Doyle about the updated program that premieres two original works and draws from 20 years of repertory. Strange Humors, a djembe- and strings-driven piece featuring volcanic, dueling male partners, is choreographed by Robert Battle, artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Mimic, a new piece by former METdance company member Terrill Mitchell, is “equally vigorous and visual,” says Doyle. “It’s fun to appreciate just the bodies being tossed around.” Houston Ballet’s Oliver Halkowich premieres Be Mine, set to Alice Smith’s rendition of “I Put a Spell on You.” “I think anyone who comes to see the show will appreciate the physicality, training, technique and artistry,” Doyle says, adding that the event is for everybody, not just couples, and includes adult beverages and “a sweet treat or two.”

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 6 p.m. Sunday. Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring. For information, call 713-522-6375 or visit metdance.org. $30 per person or $50 per couple. 

“It’s a rare opportunity to hear Sibelius No. 1 in Houston. It’s a wonderful piece and is different than many works that the audience has heard. It’s really a master work,” says Thomas LeGrand, associate principal clarinetist for the Houston Symphony, about Haydn & Sibelius, our suggestion for a classic Sunday afternoon. The symphony’s continuing celebration of the 150th birthday of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius includes his tone poem. “The Bard is a collection of themes and is considered very beautiful, while Symphony No. 1 is a nationalistic piece,” says LeGrand. “He took sound from his country and transformed it into symphonic music. His music maintains a distinct voice even after more than 100 years.”

Grammy-nominated cellist Sol Gabetta also makes her Houston debut this weekend, performing Concerto No. 1 by Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, as well as Joseph Haydn’s Concerto No. 1. Guest conductor John Storgårds leads the orchestra from the violin. “Haydn is particularly interesting to me because Storgårds will conduct from the concertmaster position, which generally isn’t done today,” says LeGrand.

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-224-7575 or visit houstonsymphony.org. $25 to $129. 

Olivia Flores Alvarez, Holly Beretto, Margaret Downing, Katricia Lang and Bill Simpson contributed to this post.

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