Ampersand Dance/Theatre: Two good buddies, Texas Christian University graduates Eric Salisbury and Shannon Slaton, have been profiled extensively in the Dallas press for talents that don't often bring you much acclaim - not to mention financial security - in this city. Salisbury is a dancer-choreographer who's performed with troupes across the country and has been commissioned to write dance pieces for local outfits such as Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth. Slaton is a playwright-actor-stage director who studied at State University of New York at Stony Brook and with local theatrical guru Fred Curchack, and has seen several of his plays produced. As two developing talents desperately seeking their orbit in the subterranean stratosphere of Dallas performance arts, the pair decided to institutionalize themselves - as an independent company, that is, not wards of the state. Their Ampersand Dance/Theatre kicks off its first full seasson with And ... What Else, a collaboration that includes dance, spoken word, and absurdist drama with the help of the company's choreographer-in-residence Andrea Harris and theater-artist-in-residence Tim McCanna. The show happens September 7-9 at Theatre on Elm Street, 3202 Elm. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 388-8946.
Michael Mogavero and William B. Montgomery: New Illusionistic and Narrative Works: Thanks to some very hot, very high-paid, very one-dimensional artists, the impulse to confuse shock with revelation has atrophied into one of the most embarrassing cliches of American visual art. Our tender sensibilities worn to the nub, we can be inspired only as far as a yawn at the latest ugly truth shoved in our faces by self-righteous painters, photographers, and performers. Texas-based artists Michael Mogavero and William B. Montgomery don't exhibit much in the North Texas area, which is a shame when you see the impressively technical, deceptively serene multi-subject scenes and portraits that have earned raves from the likes of Art in America. The Austin-based Mogavero creates gigantic, mural-like images on canvas, wood, and paper, with so much tension between pattern and color you expect them to stampede off the wall. Montgomery, who lives in Elgin, combines painting and printing techniques that feature graceful, slightly cynical organic worlds. Their show, New Illusionistic and Narrative Works, opens September 8 at 6 p.m. and runs through October 6 at Craighead-Green Gallery, 2404 Cedar Springs. It's free. Call 855-0779.
Marianne Williamson: There are so many empty spaces in the lectures of spiritual populists such as Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra that anybody can step in and create almost any message he wants. Of course, it's that same built-in Rorschach test that makes religious doctrine thousands of years old the perfect excuse to rape and pillage. Talented as she is as a public speaker, Williamson isn't likely to be stealing the Pope's thunder any time soon. Still, the faithful who come to embrace her and maybe shed a few tears about their own troubles offer her a modest tribute that has a certain Catholic intensity. What are we to make of the textbook on which her curriculum is based - A Course in Miracles, the fascinatingly dense, vaguely hypnotic tome that presents disppointment, disease, and death as mere illusion? Does Williamson offer inspirational, common-sense guidelines about love and personal responsibility, or roadside elixirs for your wounded soul? Her career as a best-selling author was cut short after the surprise failure of her neo-feminist tract A Woman's Way, which was sort of like sitting in on a consciouness raising session overseen by Stevie Nicks. She presents an evening lecture September 8 at 7:30 p.m. and a Relationships Workshop September 9 at 10:00 a.m., both at the Unity Church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane. Tickets for the former are $30; the latter, $75. For information call 233-7106.
Dr. Daniel Polz: You can't make a lot of easy comparisons between Texas and Egypt, except maybe the heat, though the Middle East variety is drier and often disappears at night. Still, there are folks in the mid-cities area much intrigued by the discoveries being made around the cradle of human civilization. The North Texas Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt sponsors two events this weekend, featuring a recognized international scholar of Egyptian history and culture. Egyptologist Dr. Daniel Polz, who's an assistant professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages at the University of California in Los Angeles, flies to Southern Methodist University for a talk on the latest discoveries unearthed from the necropolis of Thebes. The weekend kicks off September 8 with a 7 p.m. lecture, free and open to the public, entitled "An Enigmatic Tomb at Thebes," and continues September 9, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., with a $50 seminar entitled "Ancient Thebes: Anatomy of a Capital Necropolis." Both events take place in Room 153 of Heroy Hall, 3225 Daniel on the SMU campus. For info call 349-1052.
Montage '95: Dallas has so many street arts festivals throughout the spring and summer, they start to become a blur after a while. But in its 11th incarnation, Montage '95 is something of a feat of execution - the entire annual event is planned, organized, and staffed by volunteers, most of whom do not have an immediate financial stake in a healthy performing and visual arts scence. In other words, these people do it because they love the cause, and with all proceeds earmarked to benefit various Dallas cultural agencies, you can feel good that your modest admission fee ($4 in advance, $5 at the gate) is a donation to performers who often get the cold shoulder from mainstream Dallas audiences. A sample of offerings at Montage '95 includes six stages of continuous live entertainment by musicians, dancers, and actors; a wide array of international foods; 150 artist booths, street performers; and an interactive arts area. The event happens September 9, 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. and September 10, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m., along Flora Street between the Meyerson Center and the Dallas Museum of Art. Kids 4 and under get in free. 361-2011