Top 5 Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Heather Gordy and Vincent Fink Art Exhibit, Mardi Gras! Galveston and More

It's hard to say which artist represents dreams and which represents realities at the exhibition "Of Dreams and Realities: Heather Gordy and Vincent Fink," our suggestion for Friday. "We're both into dreams," Gordy says. "Vincent is into lucid dreaming, and I'm interested in the feelings that dreams produce. He does a lot of surrealistic stuff, and I do more realistic work."

Gordyand Fink first met as art students at the Art Institute of Houston, then joined the same design firm at graduation. Fink eventually left to pursue individual goals (such as his .506 clothing designs), while Gordy remained. The pair has joined forces for other exhibits, a testament, Fink says, to the respect the two have for each other.

Gordy will exhibit ink and mixed-media works. "Most of them have to do with nature. That seems to be a theme, animals and a lot of flowers all tied together with the use of patterns and vivid colors." Fink will contribute neo-surrealistic works, including pieces based on "sacred geometry" (a signature for him).

See our 100 Creatives profile of Heather Gordy

See "Of Dreams and Realities: Heather Gordy and Vincent Fink" 6 to 9 p.m. February 21 and 28. East End Studio Gallery, 708 Telephone Road. For information, call 713-363-0054 or visit eestudiogallery.com. Free.

Okay, there's a Chinese dragon, some of the names are a little different and Aladdin himself is Chinese, but other than that, the ballet Aladdin that the Houston Ballet performs on Saturday tracks along the same lines as the story most people came to know growing up, said Connor Walsh, principal dancer for the company, who'll be sharing the title role with Joseph Walsh and Charles-Louis Yoshiyama.

"Aladdin being a poor boy who steals food and is always getting into trouble ends up meeting this guy who asks him to go into the cave to get the lamp, and then he gets the lamp and there's a genie." As Walsh prepared to play the character who will keep him onstage for almost all the three acts of this full-length story ballet, he said he looked forward to the challenge.

"It's really great for a dancer to have that much time onstage. The less time we spend in the wings, the more honest the character feels and the story feels to us as performers." Walsh said the ballet was originally choreographed by the National Ballet of Japan, but added that their production "wasn't very tour-friendly, meaning the size of the production and the way they made the sets, so we did a co-production of a new set with Birmingham Royal Ballet." They've brought along British choreographer David Bintley, who put his special touch on this American premiere.

Walsh said he felt honored to play the title role, not least because "Aladdin is a movie especially of my generation, a lot of people's favorite Disney movie," although, he added, this production is not the Disney cartoon come to life. "It's completely different music, and all of the characters have slightly different personalities." Houston Ballet will take Aladdin to Chicago shortly after it finishes performances here, and Walsh said they expect to do a lot of touring with this show.

See our interview with Houston Ballet principal dancer and Aladdin lead Connor Walsh.

The Houston Ballet performs Aladdin at 7:30 p.m. February 22, 28 and March 1, 2 p.m. February 22, 23, March 1 and 2 at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-227-2787 or visit houstonballet.org. $60 to $160.

Want a little Lone Star flavor with your Mardi Gras celebration? We suggest Mardi Gras! Galveston, one of our picks for Saturday. "This year, we've made the parades bigger and routes longer with two new parades downtown. And you can watch parades both downtown and on the beachfront," says Leah Cast, public relations manager for the Galveston Island Convention & Visitors Bureau. "If you're looking for a good party, we have that. If you're looking for a family-friendly setting, we have events for that, too."

Altogether, Mardi Gras! Galveston offers 38 concerts (including country-rocker Uncle Kracker and electronic music DJ Clockwork), 24 parades, 20 balcony parties and five elegant masked balls. And more than 3 million beads will be thrown from floats in the downtown district.

Mardi Gras! Galveston is a ticketed event, so be sure you have the right one. Times vary. February 21 to March 4. Downtown Galveston. For information, visit mardigrasgalveston.com. Prices vary. This story continues on the next page.

Comedian and Citizen Radio podcast guru Jamie Kilstein has an image problem. Coming to Houston for a one-night stand at the Station Theater on Sunday, he's a progressive, feminist, vegan comic who speaks out against America's rape culture. "Your average reader is going to say, 'That doesn't really sound like something you would go and laugh at,'" he tells us. It is and it isn't. Three years ago, Kilstein had a hot-shot agent, big-time manager and lots of offers for television work. Then he said, "Rape jokes aren't funny," in an MSNBC interview, and suddenly he was persona non grata in the comedy world.

"Daniel Tosh, who's a very famous comedian, made a rape joke and a woman in the audience screamed out, 'That's not funny.' Daniel Tosh very cleverly -- you can put that in italics -- said, "Wouldn't it be funny if this girl got raped? Wouldn't it be funny if like five guys raped this girl right now?" So me, as a comic and decent human being, I said that was horrible."

Kilstein was accused of censorship and the incident became a polarizing debate over freedom of speech. "This one well-known comic said, 'Well, what if a woman in the audience got stabbed by a monkey? Am I not allowed to make jokes about monkeys?' First of all, have one in six women been stabbed by a monkey? If a woman was stabbed by a monkey, would the police be like, 'Well, were you drinking with the monkey? Did you used to date the monkey? What did you think was going to happen if you rubbed banana all over your face and then teased the monkey?'

"I believe in freedom of speech. Your freedom of speech means that you can joke about anything you want. My freedom of speech means that I don't have to laugh at it. Everyone was so upset about being censored, about losing their freedom of speech. Forget -freedom of speech; they lost their minds."

See our extended interview with Jamie Kilstein.

Jamie Kilstein performs at 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Station Theater, 1230 Houston Avenue. For information, visit jamiekilstein.com. $18.

Vocal quartet The Manhattan Transfer, in town for a doubleheader at Dosey Doe on Sunday, has the distinction of receiving the most Grammy Award nominations for any one album. The group's 1985 release Vocalese earned a record-breaking 12 nominations. It wasn't a surprise for Transfer fans; in 1981, the group had already become the first ever to win Grammy Awards in both the jazz and pop category with two separate tunes from its Mecca for Moderns release. Awards continued to pour in over the years, with more Grammys and nods from DownBeat and Playboy as the quartet circled the globe for sold-out concerts. Known for its innovative interpretation of tunes from the great American songbook, The Manhattan Transfer has carved out a singular reputation.

Houston fans have two chances to catch the group at 4 and 7 p.m. on Sunday. 25911 I-45 North. For information, call 281-367-3774 or visit doseydoescoffeeshop.com. $98 to $158.

Margaret Downing and Bob Ruggiero contributed to this post.

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