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The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Jazz and Performance Art

Naturaleza Muerta by Abel Azcona will be on display during Experimental Action.
Naturaleza Muerta by Abel Azcona will be on display during Experimental Action. Photo courtesy of the artist
What do you have planned for the weekend? If you aren't already locked in, that's okay because there is still time to grab a pair of tickets and check out one of these buzz-generating performances. The weather is working with you, not against you, so grab your coat for the evening and head out into our art-filled metropolis.

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Playing with an all-star jazz team, Joshua headlines the show that includes heavy-weight hitters who can hold their own onstage.
Photo by Jay Blakesberg
Jazz has deep roots in Texas, due in no small part to Fort Worth-grown saxophone legends Dewey Redman and Ornette Coleman. Now, in a perfect tie-in to Da Camera’s Roots-themed season, and with a nod to Dewey’s jazz group Old and New Dreams, son Joshua is offering up a tribute to his late father in Still Dreaming. “For people that know jazz, this is kind of an all-star group, with Ron Miles on trumpet, Scott Colley on bass and especially the drummer, Brian Blade,” says Leo Boucher, director of marketing and audience development for Da Camera. “These are all band leaders and great players in their own right.” We can expect favorites from Dewey’s era plus new compositions by Joshua and his band and, if we’re lucky, something from his Grammy Award-nominated debut duo album, Nearness. Boucher caught their act last year in New York and he’s hooked. “Honestly, it was one of the best jazz shows I’ve ever seen.” Let it be one of the best jazz shows you see this Friday night and catch the ensemble of jazz's finest. 

8 p.m. Friday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-524-5050 or visit dacamera.com. $42.50 to $72.50

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Without being bound to a specific execution of performance art, The Lost Twelve Year is performed simply by action.
Photo by Tongyu Zhao
“The action is the art. It’s not dancing. It’s not theater. It’s just different. It’s interesting action,” says Julia Wallace, co-director and co-curator of Experimental Action, a three-day performance art festival featuring local and international artists. “All of the art being presented is cutting-edge,” adds Wallace, perhaps referring to the pervasive dose of nudity. Leave it to a group of performance artists to find a wacky marketing scheme to promote the fest. They are attempting to woo Hollywood star and fellow performance artist Shia LaBeouf with a creative #ShiaShowUp social media campaign. Since performance art is still murky waters for some, the group is also hosting a free discussion panel moderated by Alison Starr on Saturday afternoon to help shed light on the art form. Remember that interpretation is in the eye of the beholder and there's no wrong or right way to view performance art, except to compete with it — that one is usually frowned upon. Open your mind and catch the late performance this Friday night at the Secret Group.

8 p.m. to midnight February 24, The Secret Group, 2101 Polk; 2 to 4 p.m. February 25, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 5216 Montrose; 8 p.m. to midnight February 25, Walters Downtown, 1120 Naylor. For information, visitexperimentalaction.com. Free to $30.

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More than a dance when the Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre incorporates the Twilight Epiphany Skyspace into its performance.
Photo by Ian Douglas
The world premiere of Vespertine Awakenings by the New York-based Dusan Tynek Dance Theatre features an original score by Kurt Stallmann, a composer and professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, which he’s pairing with live a cappella singers and recorded voices. Tynek, a Czech choreographer who grew up studying mathematics, will work with the light and geometry of the James Turrell Twilight Epiphany Skyspace as the troupe performs at sunset. Visitors are asked to wear white for this creative debut, part of the grand opening weekend over at the new Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University. “It’s visual art, dance and music together in a creative and collaborative work,” says Alison Weaver, executive director of Moody Center for the Arts. Be inspired this Saturday evening as you watch these performers include their stage as a member of their dance theatre.

6 p.m. February 25-27. 6100 Main. For information, call 713-348-2787 or visit moody.rice.edu. $10 to $20.

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Trying to be one with nature can backfire; however, going on campus to catch Snap Judgement Live won't, usually.
Photo courtesy of Snap Judgment
Host and executive producer Glynn Washington is feeling pretty good about Snap Judgment Live, a best-of-the-best storytelling showcase that winds up its “The Everything I’ve Always Wanted Tour” in H-Town. “I feel like I have a deck full of aces and a pocket full of cash; I’ve got nothing but aces for y’all,” says Washington. “We’re featuring literally my favorite storytellers in the world: last year’s Snap Judgment performer of the year, Don Reed; Jen Kober, who’s last year’s comic performer; Jamie DeWolf, a former performer of the year; and ‘The Closer,’ James Judd.” Longtime listeners will remember that DeWolf blew the doors off Scientology and its secrets and he’s armed with a new story that should be just as explosive. “The show right now is fire and magic,” says Washington, who describes the cinema of sounds as an emotional roller coaster. “I kid you not. You will laugh. You will cry. You will weep. You will duck and you will feel and at the end you will laugh some more.” After the show the Bells Atlas band and storytellers mingle with the crowds and share stories and, to celebrate the end of the tour, Washington warns that “we’re going to be partying.” Whether you're a current student or an alumnus of the University of Houston, this show's enticing appeal provides plenty of drive for you to come back on campus this Saturday evening to see what unfolds during the show.

8 p.m. February 25. University of Houston, Cullen Performance Hall, 4300 University. For information, call 800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com. $29.50 to $75.

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Sara Esty and Garen Scribner in An American in Paris.
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Differing somewhat from the iconic movie, the Tony Award®-winning musical An American in Paris takes up the story of Jerry Mulligan, an American expat trying to restart his life as a painter in Paris after the horrors of World War II. He meets and is intrigued by Lise Dassin, a French ballerina with secrets. Sara Esty, a former ballerina with the Miami City Ballet, is Lise and, in an interesting real-life twist, her twin sister and fellow ballerina Leigh-Ann Esty takes on the role when she can’t make it onstage. Both say it is wonderful to be on the road together doing this show with direction and choreography by Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon. “One of the pretty big themes in our story is coming out of the darkness and trying to find light in your life again,” Sara Esty says. And then of course there are the great Gershwin songs, including “I Got Rhythm” and “‘S Wonderful,” followed by the crescendo ending ballet. “We transport them to Paris every night,” Leigh-Ann Esty says. Catch the matinee at 2 this Sunday and absorb the tunes you'll hum while you close your weekend and prepare for our week.

 2 and 7:30 p.m. February 26. Theatre Under The Stars, The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $46.50 to $120.

Sam Byrd, Margaret Downing, Steve Jansen and Susie Tommaney contributed to this post.
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