Ampersand Dance: Creating a new dance company is always a risky business, but in a city like Dallas, where culture too often means you choose an imported beer while watching TV football, it's downright courageous. But dancer-choreographers Eric Salisbury and Shannon Slaton are forging ahead with Ampersand Dance, a company that will emphasize modern dance styles, showcase the works of world-famous musicians and choreographers, and premiere original works. Their debut concert performance, entitled "Syllogisms: Moving Through Rhythm," promises to do a little bit of all that. Salisbury presents five works of his own, including two brand new pieces, and Slaton offers up her own choreography alongside dance-customized versions of Beckett's Act Without Words and Sam Shepard's Tongues. And although visual art and a project which explores the theatrical possibilities of spoken poetry are also featured, the emphasis here is on movement--more specifically, the effect that rhythm has in restricting, inspiring, and propelling dance. Give 'em a try. Ampersand Dance performs Syllogisms: Moving Through Rhymes Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm in the Elm Street Theatre, 3202 Elm. Tickets are $8-$10. Call 388-8946.
Dallas Public Library Annual Book Sale: These are tough times for folks who like to think of art as an important part of their daily lives. Popular entertainment is certainly an art form, but really effective art should not only celebrate but perplex, intrigue, challenge, maybe even anger you with truths you'd rather not think about. Maybe that's why books by self-marketed spiritual gurus and regular-guy humorists outsell novels and poetry--Americans are desperate to feel comfortable. Your Dallas Public Library branches are happy to provide you with a free two-week crack at as many cream-puff best-sellers as you want, but since people are more than happy to spend their own money to be reassured, most don't go to the libraries for that. It's serious-minded folks--lovers of literature, philosophy, criticism, and history--who use library services most, and right now, they seem to be dwindling in number--kind of like the Dallas library's operating hours. Public libraries are one of the greatest forms of democracy in action, and they deserve your support. Attend the Dallas Public Library's Annual Book Sale, where more than 100,000 books, tapes, records, etc. on every subject imaginable can be had for prices as low as a quarter. All funds go back into the library's new material kitty. The Dallas Public Library presents its Annual Book Sale April 21, 9 am-7 pm; April 22, 9 am-5 pm; and Sunday, 1-5 pm in Ballroom A of the Dallas Convention Center. For more information call 670-1400.
Conte de Loyo Flamenco Theatre: Spanish flamenco dance is an art form that requires tough-minded apprenticeship and punishing practice schedules, but also doesn't mind getting its feet wet come performance time. There, the spirit of gypsy fever busts out all over, the passion of a people who've been forced to travel and so must find joy and fulfillment in the journey, in the near-religious cleansing effect of movement. The Conte De Loyo Flamenco Theatre is a company dedicated to preserving the populist traditions of dance and music known as flamenco. They are a band of purists ever-weary of the cross-pollination of Latino, African, and Mediterranean styles known as world music. The Conte De Loyo Flamenco Theatre presents performances Friday and Saturday at 8 pm at the Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E Lawther. Admission is $10. Call 670-8749.
Beginner: Nationally renowned, award-winning playwright Erik Ehn, who's profiled in this week's Stage column, is a favorite author of Dallas' Undermain Theatre, so much that they commissioned him to write a play--but only after he lost a bet against Undermain actor-director Raphael Parry on the 1993 Texas-OU game (we won't say who bet on which team). The result is Beginner, a loosely connected trilogy of plays about the maddening, hilarious, surreal experience of falling in love. If you've never seen an Ehn play, it's somewhat of a challenge, not so much for its language but in the way he bends time, space, and other phenomena of logic to create scenarios in which human need is the only barrier to wild experience. He also juxtaposes moods in a way that can make you feel you've just finished a rigorous aerobics work-out, but when performed well, his stuff offers a transcendent theatrical exercise. Beginner presents a little girl tailing her beloved grandfather to hell; a study in how lust and love can order our actions like little tyrants; and the metamorphosis of Nolan Ryan into a Cupid figure. The Undermain Theatre gives performances of Beginner Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 pm; Fridays & Saturdays at 8:15 pm through May 27 at the Basement Space, 3200 Main in Deep Ellum. Tickets are $10-$16. Call 747-5515.
Fine Arts Chamber Players: Every fourth Saturday of the month The Fine Arts Chamber Players present a free afternoon concert at the Dallas Museum of Art which features principal instrumentalists from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Fort Worth Symphony and often a nationally prominent artist or two. The program used to be called "Basically Beethoven," but they ditched that title once they branched out into composers of other eras, styles, and nationalities. This latest concert features the new principal trumpet player from the world-famous Philadelphia Orchestra. The program includes works by Kraft, Mozart, Baptista, and Barber. The Fine Arts Chamber Players perform at 3 pm in the auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, 1717 N Harwood. It's free, but seating is limited. Call 520-2219.
2nd Annual Stonewall Career Fair: If the idea of a career fair that caters exclusively to gay and lesbian jobseekers sounds like some needless separatist venture, then you've clearly never been in the position of snagging a dream job, only to discover your co-workers crack homophobic jokes in the break room; your position demands you make a certain number of social appearances as part of a couple, and they don't appreciate matching tuxedoes or evening gowns; and your boss considers having an openly gay or lesbian employee to be a serious stain on the organization's pristine reputation. Making your personal life a dirty little secret is humiliating enough, but working under the constant threat of exposure causes unimaginable stress. It's been said homophobia is the last acceptable prejudice in America, and nowhere is that truer than in the tradition-minded corporate world, where big money often has big conservative strings attached. For a gay man or a lesbian, choosing a homo-friendly workplace is a matter of spiritual and psychological health. The Stonewall Professional and Business Association presents a job fair full of professionals from many different fields ready to give advice, pep talks, guidance, and warnings about finding the right organization. The Stonewall Career Fair happens 9:30 am-4 pm at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak. 521-5342.
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Fort Worth Dallas Ballet: If European classical-influenced ballet fits your tastes, then hop on over to our sister city for the season finale of Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, also known as Balanchine-land, also known as the most critically acclaimed ballet company in North Texas. To wrap up their spring '95 season, they've prepared for you two works by the ever-influential Balanchine--Divertimento No. 15, a lyrical dance interpretation of Mozart's supple "Divertimento No. 15 in B-Flat Major," and Agon, an experiment in timing and rhythm that features a dozen dancers gyrating to a dozen movements in different Stravinsky works--as well as one by artistic director Paul Mejia called Eight By Adler. The latter is a fusion of tunes from the Richard Adler Broadway musicals Pajama Game and Damn Yankees that won dancer Suzanne Farrell an Emmy award when it was televised in 1985. Fort Worth Dallas Ballet performs its season finale April 20 & April 23 at 8 pm in the Fair Park Music Hall. Tickets are $8-$40. Call 1-800-654-9545.
Neil Miller: Some of us relative young 'uns still grew up in a time when the "nude male swimmers glistening in the sun" part of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was edited out of our high school texts, so even we can't take for granted the flood of historians who've filled in the gaps left out by generations of history books. Men like Jonathan Ned Katz, Edmund Wilson, Martin Duberman, and Neil Miller investigate the practices, thoughts, and daily experiences of men who've loved men and women who've loved women across the centuries. Author-world traveler Neil Miller's latest book Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History From 1869 to the Present throws light into a number of dark corners, from the diary-documented "intense" bonds of cowboys and frontier settlers to the secret gay fraternities among powerful city officials that steered some of the biggest urban industrial metropolises in America. Neil Miller appears to discuss and sign copies of his book at 7:30 pm at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 2701 Reagan at Brown. For more information call 521-8919.
The Homecoming: The story of 76-year-old Nobel Prize-wining author Alexander Solzhenitsyn would be fascinating if it just covered his many years of internment in a gulag because of his critical writings about the dictator Stalin. People who literally risk their lives to maintain their convictions are always interesting figures, composed of equal parts ego, stubbornness, and nobility, but Solzhenitsyn's penchant for controversy didn't stop once he came to the United States in 1974. For 20 years, the man locked himself up in a farmhouse in Vermont, obsessively recording the tumultuous history of the Soviet Union with the help of his wife. When he returned last year to a homeland where the ideology he so despised had fallen and the birthing pains of state autonomy and a free market system were at their most intense, American supporters were shocked to hear Solzhenitsyn attacking capitalism with the same zealous fervor he'd used against Soviet-controlled industries and the persecution of thought. For the old man had not made himself a hermit just to focus all his energies on Russian politics and culture, but also because he found so much of American culture repulsive--greedy, exploitative, and eager to reap profits from the basest of human instincts. What the PBS documentary series "Frontline" records in its episode "The Homecoming" is a Solzhenitsyn horrified at the former Soviet Union because it's turning into another America. KERA-TV Channel 13 airs "The Homecoming" at 9 pm. For more information on the program call (617) 783-3500.
Dallas Mayoral Forum: Steve Bartlett's decision not to seek a second term as mayor earned him more respect among many than anything he did while in office. Who the hell would want the job? Well, candidates like Domingo Garcia, Rufus Higginbotham, Darrell Jordan, Ron Kirk, Billy Jack Ludwig, Luis Sepulveda, and Roy Williams want a crack at it, and they're scheduled to appear on a Dallas Mayoral Candidate Forum moderated by KERA-FM 90.1's Marla Crockett. KERA-TV Channel 13 airs the Forum at 7 pm. For more information, or to submit a question to be asked of one of the candidates, call 740-9226.