Top Five Things to Do This Weekend in Houston: Les Grands Ballets, Mardi Gras! Galveston, Soul Nite 2013 and More
It's been almost five years since Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal visited Houston and contemporary dance lovers have anxiously been awaiting its return ever since. The Houston Ballet presents the company on Friday and Saturday as part of the Cullen Series. Under Artistic Director Gradimir Pankov, the company is set to perform two works by Italian choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, Cantata and Four Seasons. Cantata features live music by Gruppo Musicale Assurd, a quartet of female singers who perform traditional Southern Italian music. Four Seasons, set to Antonio Vivaldi's score of the same name, has 20 dancers performing in 12 scenes corresponding to Vivaldi's musical movements.
8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. For information, visit the Houston Ballet website or call 713-227-2787. $19 and up.
Mardi Gras! Galveston is big - the biggest in the state. Parties, parades and performances are spread out over the entire island. With a rich history reaching back all the way to the mid-19th century, it's the ultimate party, the last blast of decadence and debauchery before the Lenten season starts. Saturday will be a great time to catch some of the parades. The Mystic Krewe of Aquarius, one of the first krewes organized when Mardi Gras was first revived in Galveston in 1985, will kick off at noon at the Seawall. A golf cart parade (you can rent one to participate!) and an Art Car parade will follow downtown, with the Krewe of Gambrinus throwing one of their patented exuberant parades as the evening drops. Meanwhile over on the 23rd St. Budweiser Stage you can catch Tonic. The band, which snagged two Grammy nominations and a major hit with "If You Could Only See" in the late 1990s, is back in force. Caitie Taylor and Mambo Jazz Kings play earlier in the day.
Times and locations vary. Through February 12. For information, visit the event website. Prices vary.
Independent film/video curator, arts organizer and music lover Peter Lucas finds a way to put all his loves together in Soul Nite! 2013, one of our picks for Saturday. Co-presented by Aurora Picture Show and Project Row Houses, Soul Nite! 2013 is an explosion of great soul music from the 1960s with rarely seen vintage performance footage of Etta James, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Freddie King (seen at the right). Also on the bill are Joe Tex, Lee Dorsey, Arthur Conley, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and Ike & Tina Turner. Lucas, who put together the footage, also acts as host for the evening. Buy a VIP Soul Supporter ticket and you'll get a great Soul Nite poster and a CD filled with more soul music from the 1960s, put together by Lucas from his personal record collection.
7 p.m. Eldorado Ballroom, 2310 Elgin. For information, visit the Aurora Picture Show website or call 713-868-2101. $10 to $30.
Five Juilliard-trained pianists take the stage in The 5 Browns in Hollywood on Saturday, but they won't all be named Brown. One of the Brown sisters, Desirae, is being replaced by fellow Juilliard alum Steven Beus for this concert due to the impending arrival of her first child. The program includes arrangements of popular scores from Star Wars, The Sound of Music, Atonement, To Kill a Mockingbird and a Hitchcock Suite, as well as an ambitious program of classical works including selections from Stravinsky's bombastic Rite of Spring and Prokofiev's furious Toccata, Op. 11. A group of siblings who once called Houston home, The 5 Browns are known for their wide range of styles so throw your classical expectations out the window.
8 p.m. The Centrum, 6823 Cypresswood Dr. For information, visit the center's website or call 281-440-4850. $35 to $65.
Houston favorites Detria Ward and Wayne DeHart head the cast of Charles Smith's Knock Me a Kiss, our recommendation for Sunday . The action is set in Harlem in the 1920s. Yolanda DuBois, the daughter of African American activist and author W.E.B. DuBois, is torn between two men. One is a rather reckless musician that she truly loves, the other a respected poet chosen by her father. When she makes what seems to be the safe choice, she sets herself up for a shocking disappointment. Though it's a family drama that explores relatively serious issues, Knock Me a Kiss is infused with humor. Chuck Smith directs. (Not to be confused with long-time friend Knock Me playwright Charles Smith.)
7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. Through February 24. Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information, visit the theater's website or call 713-520-0055. $18 to $35.
Joseph Capparella and Jef with One F contributed to this post.