Together We Can: Conservative black columnist Armstrong Williams spoke at Southern Methodist University recently and declared comparisons between the civil rights and gay rights movements to be "insulting." He went on to display an ignorance of the issues that underlie gay rights matched only by the ignorant oversimplification that some liberal white gay activists show in stretching comparisons between the two movements. The differences can be (over)simplified thusly: The African-American community seeks economic equality, while gays and lesbians seek legal equality. Of course, what everyone ignores is the significant ways both pursuits are intertwined. The Ajamu Collective seeks to fuse the two with its Black History Month program "Together We Can," an event that combines video, dance, poetry, and a candle-lighting ceremony, all to honor the accomplishments of African-American gays and lesbians. The evening starts at 6 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Tickets are $10. Call (817) 654-7510.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo: If you've never seen Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (insider shorthand: just call 'em "The Trocks"), they're a dream come true for everyone who's ever snickered at the preening, flourishy style of a ballet performance. If the gimmick was that these guys in ballerina drag were terrible performers, then the Trocks wouldn't have lasted for 20 years, touring the world stages as the Harlem Globetrotters of classical dance. In fact, not only are they all highly trained professional dancers, which allows them to infuse their antics with a canny insider satire of various movement schools, but they also break the physical laws of ballet: Men are supposedly too heavy to dance in pointe shoes. Of course, if there were penalties incurred for all the laws these guys break--of decorum, good taste, respect for an elitist art form--then they'd all be serving life sentences, with a ball-busting prima ballerina prison matron watching their every move. Performances happen at 8 p.m. February 20 and 21 at McFarlin Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $7-$40. Call (214) 528-5576.
Welcome to Important Town: To inaugurate its new experimental exhibition space, the Conduit Gallery downtown went to Denton, a Texas city famous for its visual art, and tapped Good/Bad Art Collective, a group of Denton kids who should be famous for their ambitious group vision. They do a little lampooning of the art collective concept in their show "Welcome to Important Town," which explores how limited means and a generally low self-esteem can, in themselves, be excellent resources for art. Displayed works include a pirated copy of a certain current blockbuster intercut with commercials, a jukebox that includes recordings by all 23 Good/Bad members, and a scale model of the dumpster outside the Good/Bad facilities. The show opens with a reception 6 p.m.-8 p.m. February 21 and runs through March 28 at the Conduit Gallery, 3200 Main St. Call (214) 939-0064.
Below the Belt: Mix Beckett's comic futility with Pinter's verbal misdirection and add a dash of Mamet's appreciation for a good cockfight, and you have a script that's probably very much like Richard Dresser's Below the Belt, given its Southwest premiere by Kitchen Dog Theater. Chris Carlos, Lynn Mathis (who can tell you a thing or two about Beckett), and KDT outsider James Kille (who has a passing acquaintance with Pinter) play three men thrown together in the office of a remote industrial compound, all trying to decide who's supposed to be bossing whom around. People who feel as if they can't leave their work behind when they come home might find the kind of immediate, visceral catharsis in Kitchen Dog's production that only theater can provide. Performances happen at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday through March 29 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney. Tickets are $8-$14 (Thursdays are pay-what-you-can). Call (214) 953-1055.
Victorian Elegance: People often use the adjective "Victorian" as an insult when what they probably mean is "Puritan." As letters, diaries, and the occasional recorded public scandal have indicated, the Victorians enjoyed sex, money, and intoxicants almost as much as we do; the mores of their society simply demanded that people keep their mouths shut about it. Tidiness, order, the belief in class, education, and economics as indisputable dividing lines were what kept their gaslights glowing. Accordingly, a clean exquisiteness of line and form and the monomaniacal pursuit of "tastefulness" are reflected in everything they made. If you don't believe us, check out the Victorian Elegance Antique Show. The show happens 9 a.m.-5 p.m. February 21 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. February 22 at the Richardson Civic Center, 411 West Arapaho at Highway 75 exit 25. Admission is $5 for both days. Call (972) 235-5139.
Luv Pug Valentine Gala: Attention, Grapevine vice squad: Although the Luv Pug Valentine Gala is an event designed to advertise the love between humans and their flat-faced canine pets, we've been assured that there will be no Tijuana-style, inter-species "performances" at the fashion show, the pug-kissing booth, the photo corner, and the wedding section (only pug-to-pug unions will be conducted). Instead, what Texans should get is an always edifying eyeful: people who love their animals so much, they're willing to make fools of themselves in the town square. The event happens 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m. at Grapevine Convention Center, 1201 Main St., Grapevine. Requested donations are $2.50-$5. Call (817) 481-2004.
Texas Bound: Late winter of every year in Texas brings an authentic Dallas claim to "world class" status that doesn't require $120 million of your tax money: Arts & Letters Live, the annual celebration of international and Texas authors, with nationally and locally feted actors thrown in for good mix. Arts & Letters opens with its "Texas Bound" series, which features two Dallas talents (the Undermain's Raphael Parry and Dallas Theater Center's Khary Payton) reading stories by O. Henry and Curtis Dale Dawson, respectively, and Grace Under Fire's Julie White, a Broadway and TV veteran, reading Jewel Morgan. Performances happen at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Tickets are $12-$14. Call (214) 922-1219.
The 2nd Annual Body and Soul Exhibit: Why is it that a Botticelli painting features "nude" people, while a Hustler photo spread features folks who are "naked"? If you ever doubted the power of the artist to make us alter our perception of the world, then the always controversial subject of humans with no clothes on should convince you. Every crack and corner of the subject is explored in the State St. Gallery's Body & Soul Group Exhibition. While there's nothing pornographic in the show, the attitudes and styles of the paintings, drawings, and sculptures here alternate between reverently chaste and teasingly erotic. The show runs through March 7 at State St. Gallery, 2606 State St. Call (214) 220-0556.
Grammy Viewing Parte: When the talented but overextended LeAnn Rimes won a Grammy last year, the Dallas press reacted as though she'd been named Texas ambassador to the rest of the world. (Considering that her overall revenue last year approached a reported $90 million, she can afford to buy a few foreign countries.) Glancing at the roster of this year's Grammy nominees, the Dallas musical invasion of the international music marketplace has widened--local heroes Erykah Badu, God's Property, Kirk Franklin, Roy Hargrove, T.D. Jakes, and Rimes are all nominees in at least one category each. The Black Academy of Arts and Letters will not let this phenomenon go without a "Grammy Viewing Parte." We all know the Grammys, like the Oscars, have little artistic merit, but they're a big commercial boost to winners, and they're fun as hell to watch with a large group of people to cheer your faves and hiss all those self-indulgent, overly coiffed pop stars. The evening starts at 7 p.m. at the Black Academy of Arts and Ltters, 650 S. Griffin St. Tickets are $10. Call (214) 743-2449.