Festival Beaujolais: There is a huge international culture that surrounds wine appreciation, so much so that the French, the official-unofficial world experts on the subject, observe almost paganistic rituals. Take, for instance, the annual production of the tradition-bound red wine Beaujolais. By national law, French winemakers can only release their stuff when the clock strikes midnight on the third Thursday of November. The French are not above accommodating folks who want to enjoy this annual moment of bliss, so the French-American Chamber of Commerce in Dallas/Fort Worth has arranged for some of the first cases of Beaujolais to be shipped to our fair city for Festival Beaujolais. Expect more than 2,500 wine lovers reveling amidst 40,000 square feet of wine tasting, food displays, fashion, a silent auction, and little recreations of French culture. The Festival happens 7-9:30 pm at SouthFork Ranch. Tickets are $30 per person, and available in advance only through the French-American Chamber. For info call 991-4888.
Pascal Rioult Dance Theater: The International Theatrical Arts Society (TITAS) sometimes doesn't get the respect it deserves in Dallas artistic circles because it is a presentational organization--that is, not in the business of nurturing local artistic talent, but importing some of the world's best and most critically acclaimed performers for the enjoyment of Dallas audiences. If we ever hope to become an "international city," then TITAS is surely one of our best hopes for creating a hospitable local environment for international performers. Case in point is the Pascal Rioult Dance Theater, a relative newcomer to the American dance scene (they formed just four years ago) that has already earned raves for its understated, highly expressionistic choreography style. Performances happen November 17 and 18 at 8 pm in McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. For more info call 528-5576.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Tell-Off: Two North Texas organizations who really like to hear themselves talk and who've enthralled not a few others nationwide with their storytelling skills join forces for a friendly yak-fest. The Dallas Storytelling Guild and the Tarrant County Guild of Storytellers each contributes five of its members to the first annual Dallas/Fort Worth Tell-Off, at which audience members will benefit from a spirit of convivial competition that will most surely make each new tale an effort in one-upmanship. Some of the top names invited to perform include Elizabeth Ellis, Jan Birks, and Jim Maroon. The event kicks off at 7:30 pm in the Historic Palace Theatre, 308 S Main in downtown Grapevine. Tickets are $7. For more info call (817) 543-0018.
Compania Avatar: Presenting the second in a series of performances known as the Third International Theater Festival, Teatro Dallas is the only Dallas-based troupe--with the possible exception of the Dallas Theater Center and its Festival of the Unexpected--to consistently offer international theater to a city that often turns its back even on local treasures. The Brazilian troupe Compania Avatar is the latest example, an eight-year-old company that actually started as a cultural research project. Its founders wanted to isolate the threads of African influence in Brazil and pull them to the foreground with original and commissioned works. It comes to Dallas as part of the Teatro festival to perform Kao, a work that combines texts from William Shakespeare and prominent Brazilian writers with dance to portray the evolving relationship between a man and a woman. Performances are November 18 and 19 at 8:15 pm at Teatro Dallas, 2204 Commerce. Tickets are $12. For information call 741-1135.
When Passion is the Country (El Pais Apasianado): The Dallas-based Writer's Garret has thrown a wide net throughout the city for public figures who are also fans of the great writers of Latino literature, and dragged them in for an unprecedented night of celebrating the Latin word. Among the classic and contemporary writers who will be showcased are Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, Sandra Cisneros, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, and Rudy Anaya. Some of the readers include Teatro Dallas actresses Sonia Reyna and Adelina Anthony; KERA-TV's Yolette Garcia; and Eastfield College vice president Feliz Zamora. There's also live music and a reception. The show kicks off at 8 pm in the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther. It's free, but seating is limited. For more information call 670-8749.
An Evening of Jazz, Rhythm & Improv: Tap dancer and choreographer Sarah Petronio, based in Paris, France, is fighting a one-woman battle to keep the art of tap not only alive, but relevant. She learned from the feet of the internationally renowned performer Jimmy Slyde and would eventually become his most beloved performance partner. Tap is a physically demanding discipline, but when performed to jazz--especially the kind created by the improvisational imaginations of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans--it becomes an almost superhuman competition with balance and rhythm. Petronio displays her fancy footwork to music by all those folks in a joint concert with The Joe Rogers Trio dubbed "An Evening of Jazz, Rhythm, & Improv." The evening starts at 7:30 pm in Caravan of Dreams, 312 Houston St in Fort Worth. For more information call (817) 429-4000.
Women in Therapy & Topless Babes: Praise to the heavens for dirty art! Dallas audiences will get a double dose of the stuff in a joint exhibition by two Dallas-based painters. Of course, there's dirty art and then there's boring pornography--self-respecting erotic artists, like every other kind of artist, must rely on more than the surface shock value of the subject to engage the viewer. The show, which features the works of Rosemary Meza (also a local poet who performs widely and is the 1995 recipient of the DMA's prestigious Kimbrough Award) and Steve Cruz, promises as much technique as titillation. Women in Therapy & Topless Babes opens November 18, 6-9 pm at 500X Gallery, 500 Exposition Avenue. It's free. For info call 828-1111.
Alice Neel (1900-1984): The Complete Prints: The feminist movement in contemporary art began in the 1960s as a reaction to the stifling provincialism and patriarchy of the arts world. Unfortunately, many of the first wave of self-identified feminist artists produced work just as stifling. But what feminist creators, scholars, and critics did achieve was the salvation of some nearly lost names in American art. One of the greatest beneficiaries was the portraitist Alice Neel, whose linear, color-harmonious canvases and prints predated by almost 30 years the raw fascination with the human body that many feminists explored in their groundbreaking work. But Neel utilized her images less as a political weapon than a gut-instinct expression of her own fascination with the physical. The Gallery at SMU presents the first comprehensive exhibition of her print collection, titled Alice Neel (1900-1984). The show runs through December 17 at The Gallery in the Meadows School of the Arts on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. It's free. For info call 768-4439.
Bullet in the Head: Although not the disaster cinema purists feared, last year's foray into the American mainstream by Asian action auteur John Woo (the Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle Hard Target) hardly took domestic audiences by storm. If a veteran filmmaker as consummately skilled at orchestrating escalating rings of mayhem as Woo couldn't please mayhem-happy U.S. ticketbuyers, then clearly something got lost in the translation (let's blame Van Damme). Virtually every action film fan who's discovered Woo's spare, mythical, deadpan Chinese shoot 'em-ups agrees he is the master of screen violence as an art form. The USA Film Festival presents one of the director's favorite works as part of its Independent Showcase. Bullet in the Head follows three friends (two of whom are played by Woo regulars Tony Leung and Waise Lee) who escape to Vietnam and stumble into a very messy hunt for a cache of gold. The 136-minute director's cut being screened tonight is unavailable on video and makes its Dallas premiere. Bullet in the Head screens at 7:30 pm at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N Central Expressway. Tickets are $6.50. For more information call 821-NEWS.
The Killing of a President: The killing of JFK is like a wound that gets reopened every few years with the release of a new book, new article, or new movie. The Washington, D.C.-based Coalition on Political Assassinations is a year-old organization dedicated to making sure the scar doesn't heal until all the facts are in. The Coalition sponsors a two-day gathering in the city to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of John Kennedy's murder and continue the call for full government disclosure of related documents. Speeches, lectures, meetings, films and other events are planned daily November 21 & 22 in the Paramount Hotel Ballroom, 302 S Houston St as well as near the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza. Tickets to individual events are $10-$15. For info call 691-4592.
Holiday on Thin Ice: The Dallas improv comedy troupe 4 Out of 5 Doctors swings from the subject of death (its last show was Jack Kevorkian/Unplugged), to another horrifying, cruel inevitability in life--the holidays, a time of year when the pressure to be kind and generous is great but the temptation to crab even greater. With this in mind, the Doctors present Holiday on Thin Ice, a program of skits, song and movie parodies, and a little bit of improvisation based on the sticky hard candy of Christmas themes. Look for Texas variations like The Bridges of Kaufman County next to much-deserving satirical targets such as Jerry Jones and John Wiley Price. The show runs every Wednesday at 8 pm through December 20 at the Improvisation Comedy Club, 4980 Belt Line Rd. Tickets are $8. For more information call 404-0323.