Dawn Upshaw: Critics have fallen all over themselves to sing the praises of American-born soprano Dawn Upshaw ever since she won the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in 1984. Terms like "sweeping romanticism" and "spine-tingling" are tossed around as easily as Nerf balls, but the word no ultradistinguished, self-respecting classical critic wants to use is what springs to mind when you take a listen to any of Upshaw's twice-Grammy-winning albums: "sexy." Her supple, luxurious, assured voice puts the "purr" in opera. She performs with acclaimed pianist Richard Goode, who is himself a Grammy winner and worldwide concert draw. The pair take the stage at 8 p.m. in the Ed Landreth Auditorium of Fort Worth's Texas Christian University. Tickets are $10-$32. For information call (817) 335-9000.
Society for Cinema Studies Conference: The Radio, Television, and Film Department of Denton's University of North Texas brings to Dallas the four-day Society for Cinema Studies Conference, which as usual explores a huge variety of topics including new screen technologies, the latest in academic theory, and the down-and-dirtiest fodder for hungry movie fans. For all those earthy cinephiles out there who could give a flying fig about the hows of moviemaking, there are plenty of dishy panel discussions like "Hollywood Gossip" and "It's a Queer World After All: Disney and Homosexuality." (Don't expect much va-va-voom from "Anthropological Theory and Film Analysis.") There are numerous workshops, seminars, screenings, and appearances by national filmmakers scheduled March 7-10. One to watch out for is the March 9, 9 p.m., screening and discussion of Todd Haynes' sensational Safe, easily one of the best films of 1995. Haynes will be in attendance. All events take place at the Sheraton Park Central Hotel in Dallas. For information call 706-2906.
Fort Worth Dallas Ballet: The Fort Worth Dallas Ballet continues its love affair with the late legendary dancer-choreographer George Balanchine. Artistic director Paul Mejia, who has his own reputation as a creator of original, classically based ballet, also has work on the program. The company kicks off its second full repertory season in Dallas (the troupe produces complete seasons both here and in Fort Worth). On the bill is Balanchine's La Valse, which uses seven of Ravel's eight swooningly romantic Valses Nobles et Sentimentales. Additionally, Balanchine's Rubies, a movement from a larger work called Jewels, is included. Choreographer Mejia uses Tchaikovsky's Hamlet Fantasy Overture, Opus 67 to create an entirely new interpretation of Shakespeare's tragedy. Performances are March 8 & 9 at 8 p.m. in the Music Hall at Fair Park. Tickets are $8.25-$41. Call 1-800-654-9545.
Down the Road: The famous serial killers of America need to change publicists--they've become positively boring from overexposure--but if any local drama outfit could bring them to the stage with a bold freshness, it's New Theatre Company. New Theatre gets consistently good reviews from the local press, regularly gathers strong crowds, but hasn't seemed to generate the hipness factor (a sad necessity in this town) that talented fellow companies like the Undermain and Kitchen Dog have. Down the Road is playwright Lee Blessing's psychological drama about a husband-and-wife writing team who're tapped to write the biography of a vicious, unrepentant murderer. A double warning: If you're looking for cool bloodshed, all the deaths take place offstage; if you've got a problem with detailed verbal descriptions of atrocities, the dialogue contains a few of those. The show runs Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Swiss Avenue Theater, 2700 Swiss Ave. Tickets are $8-$10. (Thursdays half-price, Fridays two-for-one.) Call 871-ARTS.
Revival! The 1996 Dallas Collection: Every year DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation For AIDS) hosts a fashion show and soiree that features jackets custom-designed for the show by celebrity designers and just-plain-old celebrities. All proceeds, of course, benefit Dallas AIDS services. This year the big star netted for "Revival! The 1996 Dallas Collection" is none other than that Mary Tyler Moore theme song-singin', Nanouk of the North-lovin' sweetheart Isaac Mizrahi, who just might be the first frockmaker to graduate to feature-film stardom after last year's hilarious Unzipped. (Since McCauley's too old and screwed up now, may we suggest Home Alone III?) At the candlelight reception held afterward, performers include the Turtle Creek Chorale and First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park Men's Chorus. The show happens at 6:30 p.m. at Neiman Marcus NorthPark, Boedeker Street and Northwest Highway. For ticket information call 748-8580.
Joseph Vincelli: Dallas-based musician Joseph Vincelli describes himself as "jazz," but that's probably because he gets tired of walking around telling people, "I blend fusion with rhythm and blues." (It doesn't quite roll off the tongue.) Vincelli--who regularly wows 'em with his dashing looks and suave sounds at Dallas hot spots like Sambuca, on-the-jazz-map venues like the Roxy and the Strand in Los Angeles, and has recorded as a session man with Ice Cube--is about to release a new CD called I Will Wait For You. Vincelli performs at 8 p.m. at the Bath House Cultural Center. Vincelli fans, take note: Although he's performed free shows at the Bath House before, this one has a (reasonable) admission price of $7.50. Seating is limited. Call 987-9071.
STOMP: For such an unabashedly crowd-pleasing ensemble, STOMP has won a wide range of critical accolades: a Drama Desk Award, an Olivier (the British equivalent of the Tonys), and an Obie. (The group has also been tapped to perform its infectious, amazing percussive skills on Late Night and Roseanne.) There are actually three eight-member troupes, all of them trained by the British musician-choreographers Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, who started the original ensemble in London in 1991. Two currently crisscross the U.S. with university and amphitheater shows, and one continues a two-year run at New York City's Oprheum Theater. STOMP is proof that rare ability mixed with showmanship can unite pundits and audiences in awe: These guys jump through the air and make spirit-raising rhythms out of the most mundane objects. Performances are March 7 & 8, 8 p.m.; March 9, 4 & 8 p.m.; March 10, 2 & 7 p.m. Tickets are $7-$40. Call 528-5576.
The Inner Spirit: Art of the American Avant-Garde, 1907-1920: "Modern art" is a generic term that, for many decades now, has symbolized the American mainstream's disgust with visual experimentation for its own sake. As antidemocratic as you can get, the American art establishment has every right to seal itself off from populist concerns, but each successive "avant-garde" (born in the U.S. in the early 20th century as a reaction to European preoccupations like post-Impression, Cubism, Futurism, etc.) has distanced itself from trying to see things in new ways and resorted to soullessly referencing what came before. Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum presents an exhibition that should explain why so many Americans without extensive arts backgrounds pulled away from the stuff--and, at the same time, surprise those who think "modern art" throughout the century is all deliberately obscure. The Inner Spirit: Art of the American Avant-Garde, 1907-1920 features over 70 paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, and photos by over 30 American artists including Georgia O'Keeffe, Charles DeMuth, Arthur Dove, and Paul Strand. The show runs through April 14 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 738-1933.
Maxine Mesinger: Be it Louella Parsons, Rona Barrett, or Ted Casablanca, the Hollywood gossip columnist sinks or swims on the ability to hoodwink two groups: interview subjects and readers. They must be charming enough to convince the biggest stars that a little bit of scandal (real or contrived) only keeps the ticket buyers coming back for more; and they must be imaginative enough to convince the readers that this little (often very little) bit of scandal really constitutes earthshaking news, or even hot gossip. Maxine Mesinger, perhaps the most famous Tinseltown tattler Texas has ever produced, started out with a legendary column in the Houston Chronicle and moved on to enthrall the national talk-show circuit with her semispicy tales about Sinatra, Minelli, the Trumps, and many others. Julia Sweeney's Tuesday Talk Series welcomes her to Dallas to chat about her experiences. Will the dirt dished without a TV camera or a major circulation be deeper? Find out for yourself. She speaks at noon at the Dallas Country Club, 4100 Beverly Drive. For reservation information call 520-0206.
Signs of Life: The Photographic Archives Gallery features an exhibition of works by two North Texas photographers who both agree photography has little to do with reality. Signs of Life is a two-man exploration of the idea that pictures create whole new mythologies based on moments most people miss. Scogin Mayo, a former Observer staffer and current free-lance professional, started off with obsessions for acting, painting, and magic before he finally discovered, late in college, that he could create a powerful illusion simply by snapping an actual scene. Marc Wolens dropped out of a 13-year-old law practice to take photos full-time on a search for the reality in wrinkles--folded moments that require folks to finish the story themselves. Mayo and Wolens give a gallery talk March 13, 7:30-9 p.m. The show runs through March 31 at Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 W. Lovers Lane. Call 352-3167.