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The Top Five Seven Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Grupo Corpo, Thread, The ABCs of Death, Buffalo Bayou Regatta and More

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Friday is the second night of a two-day run by Grupo Corpo. In 1988, choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras had a career-defining moment: "I started thinking about what it would be like to make a dance that would be more inside our body." Grupo Corpo, now making its Houston debut courtesy of the Society for the Performing Arts, has been exploring that idea ever since. Pederneiras, part of the family that founded the Grupo Corpo dance troupe, incorporates elements of classical ballet, capoeira, samba and ballroom dance into his contemporary choreography in what's been called "an intensely Brazilian way." The Grupo Corpo style is easily identifiable, marked by loose-jointed, swiveling hips and swift and precise footwork, with low leaps and lifts. The dancers are often attired in bodysuits that have been painted with various signs and symbols.

During its stop in Houston, the company presents ímã (which means "magnet" in Portuguese) and Sem Mim (which means "without me" in Portuguese). ímã is set to a jazzy score by the Brazilian trio +2, while Sem Mim features an original score composed by Carlos Núñez, a traditional Galician bagpipe player.

Grupo Corpo performs at 8 p.m. Friday at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the SPA Web site or call 713-227-4772. $35 to $65.

It would be almost impossible to choose between Grupo Corpo and VauLT's Thread. Both are sure to be outstanding. Luckily, the uniquely staged Thread plays both this Friday and Saturday and again next weekend.

It was an either/or proposition for Amy Ell. Sleek and unique as it is, The Photobooth on Montrose is small. There's just not enough room for Ell's VauLT dance company to perform Thread suspended from the ceiling by her signature silks (think Cirque du Soleil) and to accommodate an audience at the same time. She would have to choose one or the other. Ell's solution? Maximize the performance space's large windows and place the audience outside.

"We don't allow people in, so we are in kind of a snow globe," explains Ell. "It will appeal to the voyeur in everyone," she teases. True voyeurs -- the prosecutable kind -- may be a bit disappointed with one factor in Thread's structure, though. "We actually start in nude leotards, which is every dancer's nightmare," Ell jokes. "Then through the course of the piece, we add more and more clothing." Thread features a revolving cast each weekend.

Watch Thread from the outside of The Phonebooth on Montrose at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, through March 23. 2710 Montrose. For information, visit the dance company's Web site or call 713-880-8161. $20.

We love horror films. And one of our favorites, The ABCs of Death, is screening Friday and Saturday. The ABCs of Death is made up of 26 short films, each helmed by a different director and each dealing with one aspect of death based on a letter of the alphabet, edited together by Ant Timpson and Tim League. The shorts range from the highly artistic to the obscenely vulgar. Marcel Sarmiento's D Is for Dogfight is a brilliant soundless look at dogfights that will have you rooting for the strange boxer in red gloves who stands in for a poor creature named Buddy that turns on its owner. Far more horrifying is Timo Tjahjanto's L Is for Libido, which follows a Saw-like challenge where men must achieve orgasm to increasingly perverse and nauseating sexual performances or face impalement by a large wooden spike. It's two solid hours of fresh fright and sick humor that recall great anthology films like Creepshow but at a hectic, ever-changing pace.

Learn a new version of the ABCs at 11:55 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Landmark River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information, visit the theater's Web site or call 713-524-2175. $10.

Here's another feather in Houston's cap: The Buffalo Bayou Regatta ranks among the top five such races in the country. Some 500 canoeists, kayakers and paddlers are expected for this year's race on Saturday, which just happens to be the 41st annual regatta. Spectators are expected to line the banks of the race route, with everyone gathering at Sesquicentennial Park for awards (the Styrofoam Cup goes to the boat that collects the most trash along the way), music and food.

The Buffalo Bayou Regatta runs 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Finish line is at 400 Texas. For complete route information, visit the race's Web site or call 713-752-0314. Free for spectators.

Theoretically, everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, so it's no stretch that the official theme for the 54th Annual St. Patrick's Parade in downtown Houston on Saturday is "We are ALL Irish Texans." (Real Irish Texans, for the curious, include firefighter Red Adair, golfer Ben Hogan, actor Matthew McConaughey and actors/brothers Luke and Owen Wilson.) The two-hour parade features some 100 entries of floats, beauty queens, river dancers, bands, jugglers, politicians and dignitaries. The Grand Marshal this year is the flame-haired Donna McKenzie, a mainstay on Houston radio airwaves for 25 years whose lovely tones sent thousands of young male KZKX and KLOL listeners swooning in the 1980s and '90s. After the parade, there's a bit of a party at the nearby Lucky's Pub, with awards for parade participants, a toast to NASA Commander Scott Kelly, and remembrances of Larry Joe Miggins, Jack Barnes and Sister Muriel Clarke.

Noon. Downtown Houston. For complete route information, visit the parade's Web site. Free.

Gear up to Sunday's annual Tour de Houston. The annual bike ride is sponsored by the Apache Corporation and features 20-, 40- or 70-mile circuits that begin and end at City Hall, with routes meandering through River Oaks, near Hobby Airport and the Air Terminal Museum. The 5,000 or so riders, including Mayor Annise Parker, and volunteers will be treated to a post-ride picnic at Hermann Park with vittles from My Fit Foods and classic pop and rock hits from the 1950s to the present day by the Slags. This year's race raises funds for reforesting efforts in Houston.

Tour de Houston races along from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at City Hall, 901 Bagby. For information, visit the race's Web site or call 832-393-0868. Free for spectators.

Three Houston-based playwrights have had work accepted for Theatre Southwest's 8th Annual Readers Theatre: Beverly Taylor Hutchison's The Pepperoni Blooper, Michael Weems's Why be Normal? and Steve Stewart's Contrition on Death Row. The rest of the 13 scripts, which were selected from more than 200 entries, include Hoboken, New Jersey, resident Henry Meyerson's The Nussbaum Project and Los Angeles-based Ron Burch's Albert Einstein's Brain. A troupe of 25 local actors will perform the ten-minute-long original scripts, readers' theater style on Sunday. At the end of the readings, the audience votes for the best script, and the winning playwright gets a $100 prize.

The readings start at 3 p.m. on Sunday at 8944 Clarkcrest. For information, visit the theater's Web site or call 713-661-9505. $5.

Jef with One F, Bob Ruggiero and Nancy Ford contributed to this post.

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