To tutu or not to tutu
World-famous choreographer Martha Graham once described dance as "the hidden language of the soul" and our bodies as "sacred garments" that "say what words cannot." Well, in that case, let's just say that if you put my body in a tutu or a leotard, it would laughingly say, "What is this clown thinking?" in several jerky movements before I landed on my rear. But for those who love complex, beautiful poetry of motion, Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth offers the second annual modern dance festival at the Modern. The program highlights dancers in "A Time to Dance" by musician-composer Gordon Kuhne and choreographer Lori Soderbergh as they improvise to Sacred Sound Instruments. Also, Dallas' newest modern dance company, phoenixdancetheatre, interprets a Mexican folk ballad, a Pablo Neruda poem and a tango. Then Dallas choreographer Aleta Beth Cronce illustrates the frustration of constantly changing emotional "hats" throughout a normal day. CD/FW Dance Exchange: A Choreographers Showcase is Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St. Admission is free. Call 817-922-0944 or visit www.cdfw.org. --Danna Berger
When I think "small-town Texas," the image does not include two men in flamboyant frocks. But in Tuna, Texas, actors Joe Sears and Jaston Williams hit fashion high points as flirty Tastee Kreme gals, morally correct Smut Snatchers and fierce purveyors of prize-winning potato salad. It's all in the performance of Red, White and Tuna, the third in the popular theatrical trilogy that's set in Tuna, the third-smallest town in Texas "located somewhere between Southwest Texas and hell." Almost 25 years after the pair invented their down-home, small-town characters, Sears and Williams are still fine-tuning their satire (that first play was a political weapon aimed at the Moral Majority). They still whip in and out of costumes at roadrunner speeds, but the tone is a little softer as characters mark a July 4 Tuna High School Reunion. Audiences can count on Tuna staples, though, because it's a town that never tires of Patsy Cline, polyester and potato salad. Red, White and Tuna runs July 13 through July 17 at Eisemann Center's Hill Performance Hall, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. Show times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $15 to $50. Call 972-744-4650 or visit www.eisemanncenter.com. --Leah Shafer
Strings and Things
Chamber music. It just sounds sinister, like classical works favored by Dracula, Frankenstein and Werewolf to relax and listen to when they're not doing the Monster Mash. But they're really just shorter pieces performed by smaller ensembles, as you can see during the Mimir Chamber Music Festival, which hosts shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday and 2 p.m. Sunday featuring guest artists on piano, violin, viola and cello. It continues through July 15 at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. Tickets are $20. Call 817-257-6628. --Shannon Sutlief
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Dallas children's entertainer David Chicken's inane, chirpy rock songs and his manic permagrin seem calculated to inspire the wrath of cynics, just as images of Barney the dinosaur in a sniper's crosshairs once festooned cubicles across the country. But as Chicken frolics with costumed canine co-stars Joanie and Chachi, it's hard not to feel a grudging respect. There is obviously no low to which this man will not sink to make 7-year-olds soil themselves with delight. Chicken performs at the Lakewood Theater, 1825 Abrams Parkway, at 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $4. Call 214-821-SHOW. --Rick Kennedy
The Piano Man
Billy Joel and Twyla Tharp may seem like a strange pair of collaborators--who would have thought the thuggish, boozy Piano Man would have anything to do with the woman most famous for telling Baryshnikov where to plant his toes?--but collaborate they did, and they even managed to win a Tony for their effort, Movin' Out. Blame ABBA and Queen for being the first to recycle their songs for the theater crowd, but praise Joel for realizing that most of his aging fan base would rather sip wine in plush theaters than chug beer in cold, hard stadium seats. Anyway, the 55-year-old singer is too busy marrying 23-year-old gold diggers and bouncing in and out of rehab to tour these days. So with 24 Joel songs and no dialogue, just dancing choreographed by Tharp, Movin' Out is about as close as you'll get to a Joel concert for the foreseeable future. They even managed to work in "We Didn't Start the Fire" and one of Joel's classical dalliances, "Waltz #1." So why sit at home and listen to one of Joel's three greatest-hits albums when you can get out of the house and enjoy the hits (and the misses) in a whole new context? On a local note: Dallas native Matt Wilson plays the lead role of the Piano Man in the show's North Texas premiere. Movin' Out opens July 13 and runs through July 24 at the Music Hall at Fair Park, 909 First Ave. Performances are at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, plus 2 p.m. July 14. Tickets are $15 to $69. Call 214-631-ARTS or visit www.dallassummermusicals.org. --Jay Webb