This tale, with its bride-stealing, relentless pursuit of immediate gratification and self-centered wandering peasant, is better suited to soap operas than ballet performances. But a good soap opera can capture an audience's attention like more, um, respected works of art. Peer Gynt, Ben Stevenson's choreographed interpretation of Henrik Ibsen's eponymous 1875 play, doesn't have the bonbons and sugarplums of other ballets. Instead, it tackles the important, universal themes of self-awareness and redemption. Peer Gynt is cruel to his mother, misogynistic and selfish when he begins his journey to seek his fortune. Ultimately, the aging Gynt reaches a crossroads where he contemplates the idea that one's sense of self is realized through recognizing the path set by a higher power and through love. Texas Ballet Theater presents two sets of performances of Peer Gynt. The first is 8 p.m. April 16 and April 17 and 2 p.m. April 18 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Ave. A second is planned for 8 p.m. May 21 and May 22 and 2 p.m. May 23 at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $15 to $87. Call 1-877-212-4280. --Stephanie Durham
She Will Survive
Etta James doesn't just sing about hurt. She makes you feel it. Her lyrics drip with painful honesty, and her voice hits notes that sound like a heart actually breaking. This woman who developed an early taste for good drugs and bad men knows of what she sings on been-done-wrong tracks such as "I'd Rather Go Blind" and "All I Could Do Was Cry." But she's just as convincing on love ballads like the popular "At Last" and "Sunday Kind of Love." Maybe that range is why she's developed such a following. Having started her career in the '50s, it's no surprise James has a fan base bursting with boomers, but she's endured for decades now, and young singers including Norah Jones and Christina Aguilera have called her an influence. According to James' autobiography, though, there's something else that has helped her persevere. From Rage to Survive: "In some ways, it's my rage that keeps me going. Without it, I would have been whipped long ago. With it, I got a lot more songs to sing." Whatever the reason, we're just glad she's still hitting the stage. James performs at 8 p.m. April 21 at the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm St. Tickets are $44.50 to $64.50. Call Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000. --Rhonda Reinhart
The Dallas Wind Symphony will scoff at traditional concepts such as continuity and consistency when it takes the stage for its season-finale concert on Thursday. Rather than playing just classical or Irish melodies, this eclectic group has decided to bring these and many more musical styles together to create a veritable musical stew. But with fewer carrots. Probably. The concert will be held at the Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St., at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $14 to $43. Call 214-528-5576. --Mary Monigold
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Having two different parts of your personality may seem like a sign of mental illness to some, but poet Julia Alvarez makes a living of it. In the not-crazy-just-has-a-bicultural-background kind of way. Alvarez's latest book of poetry traces her life from her Dominican Republic childhood to her present life as a famous poet. Part of her duty as the latter is to appear in The Writer's Garret's Studio Series on April 18 at 6115 La Vista Drive at 7 p.m. Admission is $28 for members and $32 for everyone else. Call 214-828-1715. --Mary Monigold
Kitschy bands rock for KNON
Tired of rock and roll packaged with designer "ready to wear" greasy trousers, "bedhead" by Toni & Guy and lyrics about the decadence of disinterest? Considering the continued relevance of The Strokes and the most recent Cobain fellation, the answer continues to be "No, not especially." But, for every manufactured example of nocturnal urban cool, there is a tongue-in-cheek inverse. From the self-protective irony of The Darkness to the shiny, creepy people of The Polyphonic Spree, bands that consider levity as important as a hook or chorus prove to be just as viable and necessary as their more "serious" brethren. Two front-runners of pop frivolity--The Red Elvises and The Necro Tonz--will hit the stage of Sons of Hermann Hall on Friday at 9 p.m. full of swagger and sarcasm. The Necro Tonz are a known commodity because of the quintet's Dallas roots and residence, and their witch's brew of rock theatrics and jazz/lounge sonic execution consistently makes for a memorable, fun outing. With names like Smilin' Jack the Ripper and Necrophilia, think of them as old-school Alice Cooper with a Vegas cocktail lizard mentality in place of menace. Then, billed as "Russian Rockers," The Red Elvises offer a semi-similar brand of celebratory kitsch with a mixture of Presley-posing and Communist pageantry. Hailing (save one) from the former Soviet Union, the Elvises formed in sunny California, sharing a need for raw rock and over-the-top gaudiness. Gary Glitter is James Taylor by comparison to these guys, so expect klezmer surf-abilly to rule. The beguiling bill is courtesy of radio station KNON 89.3 FM, and all proceeds benefit the station. This is a cause worth coming out for, because if variety is the spice of life, then KNON's diverse volunteer programming is that orange Season-All stuff that's made up of, and is good on, everything. Sons of Hermann Hall is at 3414 Elm St. Call 214-828-9500 ext. 138 or visit www.knon.org. --Matt Hursh