Utopia Danza-Teatro: Based on a reading of its press information, it would be tempting to describe the Mexican dance troupe Utopia Danza-Teatro as "experimental," but there is nothing new or uncertain about the themes that underlie its mixed-media work--economic instability in its homeland and the anonymity of the poorest segments of the population. Utopia Danza-Teatro comes to Dallas to give four performances of "Invierno 31:00:94" and "Letters from the Winter." These dancers are known for the emotional and physical extremes they undergo to put a performance across. Performances happen September 5-7 at 8 p.m., and September 8 at 2 p.m., at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets are $8-$12. Call 953-1212.
Our Lady of the Tortilla: The Fort Worth Theatre, currently enjoying its 42nd season of live performance, kicks off its Hispanic series with Luis Santeiro's generational comedy, Our Lady of the Tortilla. Attitudes of three Latino generations are brought under the microscope about subjects including marriage, career, and interracial relationships when one family is forced to confront what appears to be the legendary Lady of Guadalupe--on a tortilla. The opening night performance happens at 8:15 p.m.; the show happens Fridays and Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. through September 21 at Orchestra Hall, 4401 Trail Lake Drive at the corner of Granbury Road in Fort Worth. Tickets are $5-$12. Call (817) 738-7491.
Tabibito--Traveler and Faces of Dallas/Faces of Sendai: In the "let's share our toys" spirit of Sun and Star '96, the 100-day Japanese-American exchange festival begun this week in Dallas, Photographic Archives Gallery presents two shows. Tabibito--Traveler presents portraiture by Tokyo native Yasuko Robinson and collages by Adrienne T. Rosenberg. As you might have predicted, they converge in interesting places. Faces of Dallas/Faces of Sendai is a joint project in which American and Japanese high-schoolers trained the camera lens on their own hometowns and came up with...you'll see. The shows open today and features a reception September 8 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It runs through October 5 at Photographic Archives Gallery, 5117 West Lovers Lane. Call 352-3166.
Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington: Informed sources have reassured us that David Hadju's new biography of the late gay composer-musician Billy Strayhorn, Lush Life, is a must-read both for ardent jazz fans and those who have only gotten their big toe wet venturing into America's greatest musical form. The book is almost as much about Strayhorn's long-time collaborator and pal, Duke Ellington, who might just be the closest this American century has produced to a Mozart. The African-American Museum opens an exhibition of the 50-year career of Ellington entitled Beyond Category: The Musical Genius of Duke Ellington. Specially designed environments provide musical settings for Ellington's scores, and there are also photos, manuscripts, instruments, and plenty of text on hand to trace this artist's vital jazz-pop-blues-big band contributions. The show opens September 7 and runs through December 31 at the African-American Museum in Fair Park. For information call 565-9026.
Bird Stories: Oklahoma native Y. Gale Gibbs was at an early age fascinated with the mythological iconography in much American Indian work. This led her to study the earliest drawings by indigenous peoples discovered on this continent that, in turn, led her to record images of her life in the pared-down graphic style of those early artists. Bird Stories features paintings and drawings that employ computer and Xerox to depict key points in Gibbs' life; she says she imagines that she was a separate artist inside herself, drawing images on the inner walls of her body to prove that she had existed. The show opens with a reception September 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and runs through October 4 at the Dallas Visual Art Center, 2917 Swiss Ave. Call 821-2522.
Snake-Eyes and Sixes: To kick off its 1996-1997 season, Gray Matters presents an exhibition called Snake-Eyes and Sixes that features the work of six artists from North, East, and West Texas. Included are Bruce Webb, who co-operates Waxahachie's Webb Gallery and is inspired by self-taught artists; Andy Emmons, who lampoons his high-school classmates with cartoonish colored-pencil drawings; Celia Eberle, who uses animal imagery to convey psychic distress; Robin Dru Germany, who explores gender myths through clothing; Tom Sale, a found-object artist; and Dottie Allen, who creates fictional lives with real photos and objects. The show opens with a reception for the artists and a convergence of Texas art cars September 7 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. It runs through October 26 at 113 N. Haskell Ave., between Main and Elm. Call 824-7108.
The Shores of A Dream: Yasuo Kuniyoshi's Early Work in America: After being closed for 12 weeks for renovation, Fort Worth's Amon Carter Museum opens with The Shores of A Dream: Yasuo Kuniyoshi's Early Work in America. Kuniyoshi, a painter and illustrator who died in 1953, came to America in 1905 at the age of 16 among a generation of Japanese immigrants who sought greater economic opportunities in the United States. The Shores of a Dream showcases 30 drawings and oils created in the early 1920s before Kuniyoshi, like so many of the so-called "modern artists" of this era, dashed off to Europe and absorbed their avant-garde tendencies. The show opens September 7 and runs through November 17 at the Amon Carter Museum, 3501 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. It's free. Call (817) 738-1933.