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The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Samurai, Hip-Hop & an Evil Fairy

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There's lots to see and do this weekend, and with unseasonably warm weather, it's a great opportunity for road-tripping to Galveston, hanging out at Discovery Green or putting on that cowboy hat for some Texas-style rodeo fun. No weekend would be complete without drama, so we've included a playwright who pens against type and an evil fairy with a monster entourage.

When Drum TAO stormed the stage at the largest arts festival in the world, the Scots were blown away by the fierce athleticism of this unique dance ensemble that combines Japanese martial arts drumming traditions with Korean, Maori and Indonesian influences. Since that sold-out 2004 debut at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the dancers — who train in the Kuju Highlands on Japan's Kyushu — have performed all over the world, including at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. They're doing a 38-show North American tour this spring, taking the stage this Friday night at The Grand 1894 Opera House for TAO: Seventeen Samurai, one of our recommendations for this weekend. "TAO was first presented at The Grand in 2010 and received rave reviews from the audience," says Maureen M. Patton, executive director. "We are honored to bring them back for an encore performance that will be completely new and deliver even more drama and energy." Patton says it's a "one-of-a-kind experience" and that the intimacy of the theater makes the audience feel like they're part of the performance. Costuming is by acclaimed fashion designer Junko Koshino, who designed for Madame Butterfly and The Magic Flute, and who received a Tony Award nomination for her work on the Broadway musical Pacific Overtures.

8 p.m. Friday. 2020 Postoffice, Galveston. For information, call 800-821-1894 or visit thegrand.com. $22 to $58. 

Bboys will be boys with FLY Dance Company's throwback to the old-school hip-hop tenets of breakdancing, emceeing, deejaying and tagging, our other pick for Friday night entertainment. "We shed light on the positive aspects of hip-hop through street dance," says FLY Dance principal dancer and executive director Jorge Casco. "Hip-hop is about loving yourself and respecting your community. If you have your reservations about it, you'll come to our show and see it presented in a clean-cut, wholesome way that's also true to [its] essence." Part of Discovery Green's Friday Night Sights!, the breakdancers will "spin and turn and perform almost like the Los Trompos," says Susanne Theis, programming director, about the colorful spinning tops installation that serves as the backdrop for the performance. "[It's surprising] just how deep and talented and rich and diverse and varied the artistic talent is in this city."

7-8 p.m. Friday. Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, call 713-400-7336 or visit discoverygreen.com. Free. 

Yeehaw! Polish off those big belt buckles and dust off those boots, because it's time to unleash your inner cowboy and cowgirl at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo's Downtown Rodeo Parade, which we think is a great idea for this Saturday morning. This year's grand marshal is the University of Houston's head football coach, Tom Herman, who will lead the procession of hundreds of trail riders, dozens of marching bands and duded-up floats, plus some local dignitaries. The parade starts at Bagby and Walker (between Tranquility Park and City Hall), then winds its way down Walker, then Travis, Bell and Louisiana, ending up at Lamar and Bagby (by the Houston Public Library). Ride METRO if you can, or use Theater District parking or the garage at Walker and Main.

Check the Rodeo website for details about street closures and parking. 10 a.m. Saturday. For information, visit rodeohouston.com. Free.

For those not content to stand by and watch, it's going to be crisp and mostly sunny weather for the ConocoPhillips Rodeo Run, which kicks off at 9:10 a.m. this Saturday and looks like a lot of fun. It's for a good cause, as registration fees for those participating in the 5K (run/walk) and the competitive 10K benefit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo educational fund. Register ahead of time at ConocoPhillips (600 North Dairy Ashford) or at Luke's Locker (1953 West Gray). We're excited about the run's costume contest (18 and older), with prizes for best dressed (creative western wear) and most spirited (where attitude definitely counts). The organizers have also added the option to sign up as a “virtual runner,” which means you get a T-shirt and help the educational fund, but don't have to run.

The course begins at the corner of Walker and Bagby and continues along Allen Parkway. For information, visit conocophillipsrodeorun.com. $30 to $35. 

Playwright Young Jean Lee is known for tackling subjects about people who are unlike her. In Straight White Men, making its regional premiere at Stages Repertory Theatre, the Korean-American Lee writes about exactly what the title suggests, and used actors and focus groups to help her get close to the truth, says Leslie Swackhamer (2015 Houston Theater Awards winner for best director). “The straight white men who are in this play are not a bunch of bubbas,” she says. “They are intelligent, well-educated, liberal-leaning men who’ve been raised in a highly conscious household to be aware of their own privilege.” Lee’s play examines how families work together, what it is to be in a house where the mother is no longer present, and the societal pressures straight white men face to succeed. Starring James Belcher as the dad, and Adam Noble, David Matranga and Jason Duga as the brothers, the 90-minute one-act play is very physical, funny and active, Swackhamer says. Those are all things we look for in a good play, making this our pick for Saturday night drama. It also includes a much-rumored plot twist, but Swackhamer says there may be an even bigger surprise to audience members. “Anybody who sees it is going to have points where they really identify with the characters and the situations, and for some people who are not straight white men, that will be very surprising.”

8 p.m. Saturday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays. Through March 6. 3210 Allen Parkway. For information, call 713-527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $21 to $54. 

In honor of Artistic Director Emeritus Ben Stevenson's 80th birthday, the Houston Ballet is presenting a revival of his four-act staging of The Sleeping Beauty, and First Soloist Katharine Precourt, dancing the lead role of Aurora, calls it "a joy to dance." Precourt, who on alternate dates will dance the roles of the Lilac Fairy (everything good) and Carabosse (evil fairy, comes with monsters), says she forgets how challenging the steps are, because the story and its choreography are so good. Precourt, who grew up in San Diego and started dancing very young, was also a competitive figure skater. When she was ten, coaches on both sides said she had to pick between them, and she went with ballet, eventually being accepted into the Houston Ballet company. Unable to pick her favorite among all the roles, Precourt says the way she carries herself while playing the evil fairy is completely different from when she's the princess. "There's a different take the moment she steps on the stage. She's the one that wasn't invited to Aurora's christening. She's bad from the beginning. She wants to show that and places the curse on Aurora. It's very fun; it's a role that's sometimes danced by men in other versions. In this version, she's a woman and she's quite beautiful; she has this really pretty tutu and she's on pointe so she's still a fairy, but still evil." Since everyone knows the story, Precourt says that no one will lose his or her way as the dancers make their way across the stage to Tchaikovsky's memorable music this Sunday afternoon, which sounds like the perfect way to close out the weekend.

2 p.m. Sunday. Continuing 7:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. Through March 6. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $20 to $197. 

Margaret Downing and Katricia Lang contributed to this post.

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