Dallas Symphony Orchestra: You say you've never been to hear the Dallas Symphony, maybe never attended a symphony concert before, but are itching to try it without dropping a two-digit ticket price for admission? Well, Fort Worth-based NBC affiliate KXAS-TV Channel 5 offers a live broadcast of one of the Dallas Symphony's sold-out Christmas performances. The program features not just the principal players but, under conductor Kate Tamarkin, a variety of arts entities presenting spoken word and choral performances--Randy Moore as Scrooge from the Dallas Theater Center's production of A Christmas Carol; the Dallas Handbell Ensemble; the Dallas Symphony Chorus; the six-woman cultural tornado New Arts Six; and many others. Included on the program are all the predictable American chestnuts--Silent Night, Irving Berlin's White Christmas--as well as all the predictable European chestnuts--selections from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Rutter's Gloria. Consider this a test to decide whether you wish to become a paying Dallas Symphony patron. But for that real Morton H. Meyerson atmosphere, drape your living room in gold foil and periodically fill the air with clouds of hair spray and floral perfumes to adjust yourself to the assertive grooming habits of the blue-hair set. If you don't have small children, rent a couple to stand in for the noisy, squirming kids who aren't enjoying the taste of culture their rich parents are forcefeeding them. KXAS-TV Channel 5 presents this sold-out performance of the Dallas Symphony's A Christmas Classic program 8-10 pm live from the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
Mahogany Dance Theatre: The title of the Mahogany Dance Theatre's holiday production, The Gift: Something Within, alludes to the expressive modern movements you'll see performed by this company of child, young adult, and adult professional dancers. If you spend your time waiting for an ornately wrapped, box-shaped prop to appear, then yes, Virginia, you've missed the point--the "gift" these dancers refer to is movement and expression bestowed on them by a divine maker, in turn bestowed upon you, the audience. Your gift is time, attention, and hopefully appreciation. The Mahogany Dance Theatre performs at 8 pm at the Daniel "Chappie" James Learning Center at 1718 Robert B. Cullum Blvd in Fair Park. A catered dinner is served beforehand, but is optional. Tickets are $12. Call 428-8360.
Santa's Day Out: For parents and everyone else who's found himself yoked to an apple-cheeked, 48-inch-high-or-less puppet of the American consumer culture, organizing Christmas shopping around their greedy eyes can be a real chore. Of course, if you asked, they'd be more than happy to cut out the middle man (you know, the fat guy in red) and simply lead you from store to store, selecting their own gifts and saving you lots of trouble. Until that happens, you need somewhere safe to deposit them while you brave the parking lots and register lines. The Dallas Nature Center provides you five free hours on a Saturday afternoon with a program called Santa's Day Out, in which kids aged three to 10 (and please, only toilet-trained; the staffers don't get paid that much) can enjoy activities like storytelling, trail hikes, live bird demonstrations, and more. Parents who want to stay can participate in a wreath-making class. If, on the other hand, you choose to leave the kids, remember--you must come back for them. Santa's Day Out happens 11 am-4 pm at The Dallas Nature Center, 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway at the west end of Wheatland Road. It's $15 per child, with a $10 cost for adult wreath-making materials. For information call 296-1955.
George Condo & Larry Mantello: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, the fledgling art space dedicated to bringing in visual artists, writers, music performers, and soon, cinema from all over the country, presents shows by two artists who are both aesthetic pack rats, hoarding certain themes and styles and trying to incorporate them into their own worlds. George Condo is an internationally celebrated painter of the kind Morley Safer is likely to scorn, although not for lack of technical ability. Condo's canvases are adorned with the styles of the great international masters of this century--Picasso, de Kooning, Gorky, etc.--and a deliberately orchestrated tension in their relationships to each other. In a single painting, he might incorporate various original subjects, each rendered in the instantly recognizable strokes of a different legend. The question becomes, exactly why has Condo set himself up as the copy-cat regurgitator of schools and movements drummed into the heads of painting students at all the major institutions of the world? Is he making fun of the tradition of thievery known as influence? Do you care, Morley? West Coast artist Larry Mantello, on the other hand, is reliving a more personal legacy in his installations featuring Mylar balloons, tourist trinkets, T-shirts, candies, and just about anything else that reminded Mantello of his childhood dream of visiting California--which was made a reality through his grandmother, who took him and his siblings on a trip there when each turned 16. The paintings of George Condo and the paraphernalia of Larry Mantello are on display through January 15 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney at Bowen. For ticket info call 953-1MAC.