Ampersand Dance/Theatre: The title of the latest multimedia showcase by the Fort Worth-based Ampersand Dance/Theatre is nicely populist for a troupe which dabbles in decidedly noncommercial media--"Better Than A Movie and Cheaper Than A Cowboys Game" (a two-part statement to which we reply: "We'll see about that," and, "Yeah, but what isn't?"). The company's four artistic directors have each created short works which rely heavily on the contributions of Denton-based composer Dr. Paul Slavens and local media artist Doug Hopkins. Works include Eric Salisbury's The Early Years, which blends dance and video to carry us on a trip through this roller coaster we call life, with a surprise ending; a three-part look at the coldness of modern communication by Shannon Slaton using love letters, the silent movie, and centuries-old German texts; three works by Andrea Harris that chronicle the dead end of a relationship, the joys and sorrows of conformity, and an ancient religious ritual; and a surprise work by Tim "Henry Noodle and the Radar Blip" McCanna. In its press material, Ampersand warns us to catch these performers "before they continue their expansion out of Dallas and become a rarity." Decide for yourself whether they're worth courting. Performances happen March 14-16, 8 p.m., in the Theatre on Elm Street, 3202 Elm. Tickets are $8-$10. Call (817) 338-1658.
Mosaics: Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba: It's a good thing the parents of Japan-born artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba didn't force him to stop playing with his food. As part of its Mosaics series, D-Art Visual Center opens a one-man show of works by the young artist. Nguyen-Hatsushiba links tragedies like AIDS and persecuted refugees hunting for a homeland with what he calls "the fundamental purity of action we take to satisfy our hunger," and wraps them up in images composed of anchovies, seaweed, fruit rinds, egg shells, beans, and other yummies. The show opens March 15, with an opening reception 6:30-8:30 p.m., and closes April 19 at 2917 Swiss Avenue. It's free. For information call 821-2522.
Terrence McNally: Arts & Letters Live opens its "Distinguished Writer" series with an individual so distinguished, you have to wonder if the organizers didn't kick themselves for shooting their wad too early because of schedule issues. Playwright Terrence McNally is a rarity on the American stage today--a man whose work can pull 'em in with the hottest of Neil Simon's comedies, yet who refuses formulas with each new project. He is the winner of the 1995 Best Play Tony for Love! Valour! Compassion! and co-author of Broadway's hottest ticket, the portrait-of-the-diva-as-a-temperamental-teacher musical hit, Master Class. (The generally mixed reviews for the latter were more than compensated by his previous 1993 Best Book of a Musical Tony for Kiss of the Spiderwoman, still going strong in New York City). Texas native McNally comes to share his unique views of life, love, and the stage. He appears at 8 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N. Harwood. Although the performance is officially sold out, returned tickets go on sale 15 minutes before showtime. For information call 922-1200.
Like a Double-Edged Sword: The Civil Rights Movement in Texas: Need a single stark image as a reminder of consequences that lurk behind the rhetoric of certain candidates in this year's presidential campaign? The historical exhibit, Like a Double-Edged Sword: The Civil Rights Movement in Texas, has one 1960 shot that says it all: a black man named Felton Turner, thrashed with a tire iron and strapped to a tree, the calling card of the perpetrators (KKK) slashed across his stomach. This is perhaps the darkest note of the exhibit, which includes photos, newspaper clippings, text, and images screened across the show's six kiosks, each of which represents a different topic: "The Culture of Segregated Schools"; "Jobs Open, Businesses Closed"; "Neighborhoods, Changing and Disappearing"; and "Segregation Remembered." The exhibit continues through April 30 in the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 1515 Young. It's free. Call 670-7838.
The 13th-Annual Downtown Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade: Scan through the list of descriptions provided in the press material for the 13th-Annual Downtown Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade, and you'll be charmed by the various events--high-school marching bands, pony rides, a parade featuring over 100 entries by local organizations--and struck by an omission that casts St. Patty's Day in a whole new light: no beer. Lemonade and soft drinks aplenty, but no beer. This is, of course, perfectly in sync with a family parade in Dallas, which seems to need all the prohibitions it can get so everyone has a safe time. But no beer feels like a grievous ethnic slur on a day used by many thousands of grownups, Irish and non-, to get face-on-the-pavement drunk. The parade begins at 2 p.m. downtown at Main and Harwood, then travels west for a stop at the West End Historic District, and presents closing festivities at Dallas Alley around 4 p.m. For more information call 720-7717.
Deep Ellum St. Patrick's Weekend Festival on Crowdus: You say no beer is a problem? The Deep Ellum Association offers you the chance to imbibe (just don't screw it up with a DWI or a public-intoxication rap) and celebrate for three days with its St. Patrick's Weekend Festival. Friday the 15th features street vendors serving Irish food, bagpipe players, and Irish music at George Wesby's; continues Saturday the 16th at 6 p.m.; and wraps up on Sunday the 17th, beginning at noon. All of it happens on Crowdus in Deep Ellum. There's also a St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl that starts on Friday with a $15 entry fee. For more information call 748-4332.
Annual Connemara Sculpture Exhibition: After two weeks of open-air work by a variety of national artists, the sculpture exhibition at the Connemara Conservancy is now finished and ready for its debut. Of course, as anyone knows who's familiar with the annual spring ritual on this 72-acre North Texas preserve, the interplay between artists, who're instructed to use as much of the natural environment as possible, and visitors, who're encouraged to help the artists with their sculptures, is what makes the final products so unique. The Annual Connemara Conservancy Sculpture Exhibition opens at 1 p.m. and remains up until May 19. Maps and artists' statements are available so visitors can take their own leisurely critical tours through the works on display. Of course, it's always free. Connemara Conservancy is open seven days a week from dusk until dawn. To find the grounds, go north on Central Expressway to McDermott Drive, then turn left and drive 1.6 miles. Make another left on Tatum Drive and travel a mile to the Conservancy. For information call 521-4896.
World's Best Commercials 1995: Anybody who's watched a Super Bowl, Grammy, or Academy Awards telecast during the last five years is pretty much an expert on the latest technological treats multibillion-dollar corporations offer in exchange for 30 seconds of your time. Americans are both slaves for and immune to the onslaught of sales pitches, thanks to longstanding FCC regulations that require advertisers to compete in short, segregated sequences for your attention. (Producers of infomercials, the sick exception, will soon fossilize from fat cats to dinosaurs.) The USA Film Festival presents a 70-minute program of 100 tiny sagas from around the world that were all created under the same rules: Make it clever, eye-catching, ear-charming, and quick. World's Best Commercials 1995 is a compilation chosen by the Cannes International Advertising Film Festival. Advertising in the post-industrial world constantly takes well-deserved hits, but the creativity required to conceive the best of these spots rivals that of every artistic discipline, be it short story, short film, or stand-up comedy monologue. The show runs at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the AMC Glen Lakes Theatre, 9450 N. Central Expressway. Tickets are $6.50. For more information call 821-NEWS.
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Vladislav Blaha: The Dallas Classic Guitar Society hosts a Czechoslovakian artist who only now makes his debut tour in the United States, yet whose fame precedes him from award-winning recordings and international composers who beg him to record their newest compositions. Vadislav Blaha currently teaches at the Czech institute where he first studied, the Brno Conservatoire. He later broke the boundaries of Eastern Europe, studying with German masters as well as Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music and London's legendary John Duarte. A consummate expert in classical styles from around the world, Blaha also managed an impressive feat during the Communist regime in which he was raised: His great talent forced the hand of skeptical officials who allowed him to perform the experimental, form-busting works of composers of the 20th century that the authorities often frowned upon. The show begins at 8 p.m. in Caruth Auditorium on the grounds of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $12. Call 528-3733.
Lydia Lunch: Lydia Lunch doesn't hate men, although the more sensitive members of the male species are bound to get their feelings pricked by some of her now-infamous rant- ings about male sexuality. A feminist who was filmed, by underground sensation R. Kerns, getting her head bashed against a bedpost by a naked, longhaired Henry Rollins, she explores the oft-undiscussed counterpart to male dominance: female masochism. As 16-year-old lead singer of Teenager Jesus and the Jerks, she was one of the most visible female performers on the cusp of American punk populism. We don't suggest you take a first date to one of Ms. Lunch's performances, but should you happen to be in the mood for confrontation mixed with surprising bursts of self-deprecating humor, check out this singer-songwriter-poet-actress-filmmaker who charges on valiantly in an era in which people would accuse her of wallowing in victimhood. Lunch, like Rollins, has incorporated real-life experiences with parent brutality into her show, but she has always espoused performance catharsis over whining. It's difficult to predict what a Lydia Lunch show will contain, which is half the fun. She performs at 9 p.m. at Club Dada, 2720 Elm. For more information call 744-DADA.
The Gay 201 Series: Try to imagine living in a country where roughly half the 50 provinces have declared you a criminal based on a simple but fundamental part of your personality. Picture the problems you could face when, in the vast majority of these states, employers and landlords can kick you onto the streets just because they hate what they think you're doing in private. If all that sounds foreign and just a bit farfetched, you're obviously not part of the weird, wacky world of being gay or lesbian in America. The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance hosts the second in its series of public education forums on homosexuality, this one focussing on the avalanche of homophobic legislation on local, state, and federal books. "The Gay 201 Series: Queer Law" covers Texas' anti-sodomy law, 2106; how the Supreme Court has wrestled with sodomy laws (and how it's about to address the Colorado state law which bans legal protection from anti-gay discrimination); and much more. The discussion-presentation happens 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan at Brown. It's free and open to anyone who's interested. Call 528-9254.
Poetry and Jazz: Three Dallas-based institutions--The Writer's Garret, Arts & Letters Live, and the McKinney Avenue Contemporary--combine resources to celebrate poetry and jazz, two kindred spirits that at this very moment kick and squall with an exciting fetal energy in a city where maturity can mean creative death. The celebration is actually dubbed a "Preview Party" to coincide with the national exposure of six poets--including Tim Seibles, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Jack Myers--for their new Leaning House CD. Dallas-based jazz dynamo Marchel Ivery performs hot tunes with his Leaning House All-Stars before the new CD is played for your lyrical edification. The show happens 5-7 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Avenue. Requested donation is $8. For more information call 828-1715.