Events for the week
Jingle Bell Run: Should you be walking or driving near downtown Dallas this evening and hear a terrific jingling commotion, don't worry--Santa's reindeer aren't flying kamikaze missions among the skyscrapers. In fact, you've stumbled on one of the most fun Dallas holiday traditions--great because it combines a little exercise (or a lot, depending on how seriously you take it), the chilly night air, camaraderie among strangers, and the you're-never-too-old joy of being allowed--nay, mandated--to make a lot of noise. This is, of course, the annual Jingle Bell run, which benefits Bloodcare (formerly known as The Wadley Blood Center)--the only blood center in the metroplex area, responsible for serving 74 hospitals and other medical facilities throughout North Texas. In short, it's not only a great cause, but one which you might find yourself in desperate need of, with the tragic explosion of motor vehicle accidents around holiday times. But enough of the grim stuff. The Jingle Bell Run is actually several events--a 5K Run and One-Mile Family Fun Walk, a costume contest, a Santa Land for kids to browse in, a post-race party with free food and drinks, and live musical entertainment provided by Maylee Thomas and Texas Soul. Evening events surrounding The Jingle Bell Run kick off at 6:15 pm at the corner of Ross & Freeman outside the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas. Registration is $15 per participant, but groups can get special deals. Call 526-5318.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra: You say you've never been to hear the Dallas Symphony, maybe never attended a symphony concert before, but are itching to try it without dropping a two-digit ticket price for admission? Well, Fort Worth-based NBC affiliate KXAS-TV Channel 5 offers a live broadcast of one of the Dallas Symphony's sold-out Christmas performances. The program features not just the principal players but, under conductor Kate Tamarkin, a variety of arts entities presenting spoken word and choral performances--Randy Moore as Scrooge from the Dallas Theater Center's production of A Christmas Carol; the Dallas Handbell Ensemble; the Dallas Symphony Chorus; the six-woman cultural tornado New Arts Six; and many others. Included on the program are all the predictable American chestnuts--Silent Night, Irving Berlin's White Christmas--as well as all the predictable European chestnuts--selections from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Rutter's Gloria. Consider this a test to decide whether you wish to become a paying Dallas Symphony patron. But for that real Morton H. Meyerson atmosphere, drape your living room in gold foil and periodically fill the air with clouds of hair spray and floral perfumes to adjust yourself to the assertive grooming habits of the blue-hair set. If you don't have small children, rent a couple to stand in for the noisy, squirming kids who aren't enjoying the taste of culture their rich parents are forcefeeding them. KXAS-TV Channel 5 presents this sold-out performance of the Dallas Symphony's A Christmas Classic program 8-10 pm live from the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
Mahogany Dance Theatre: The title of the Mahogany Dance Theatre's holiday production, The Gift: Something Within, alludes to the expressive modern movements you'll see performed by this company of child, young adult, and adult professional dancers. If you spend your time waiting for an ornately wrapped, box-shaped prop to appear, then yes, Virginia, you've missed the point--the "gift" these dancers refer to is movement and expression bestowed on them by a divine maker, in turn bestowed upon you, the audience. Your gift is time, attention, and hopefully appreciation. The Mahogany Dance Theatre performs at 8 pm at the Daniel "Chappie" James Learning Center at 1718 Robert B. Cullum Blvd in Fair Park. A catered dinner is served beforehand, but is optional. Tickets are $12. Call 428-8360.
Santa's Day Out: For parents and everyone else who's found himself yoked to an apple-cheeked, 48-inch-high-or-less puppet of the American consumer culture, organizing Christmas shopping around their greedy eyes can be a real chore. Of course, if you asked, they'd be more than happy to cut out the middle man (you know, the fat guy in red) and simply lead you from store to store, selecting their own gifts and saving you lots of trouble. Until that happens, you need somewhere safe to deposit them while you brave the parking lots and register lines. The Dallas Nature Center provides you five free hours on a Saturday afternoon with a program called Santa's Day Out, in which kids aged three to 10 (and please, only toilet-trained; the staffers don't get paid that much) can enjoy activities like storytelling, trail hikes, live bird demonstrations, and more. Parents who want to stay can participate in a wreath-making class. If, on the other hand, you choose to leave the kids, remember--you must come back for them. Santa's Day Out happens 11 am-4 pm at The Dallas Nature Center, 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway at the west end of Wheatland Road. It's $15 per child, with a $10 cost for adult wreath-making materials. For information call 296-1955.
George Condo & Larry Mantello: The McKinney Avenue Contemporary, the fledgling art space dedicated to bringing in visual artists, writers, music performers, and soon, cinema from all over the country, presents shows by two artists who are both aesthetic pack rats, hoarding certain themes and styles and trying to incorporate them into their own worlds. George Condo is an internationally celebrated painter of the kind Morley Safer is likely to scorn, although not for lack of technical ability. Condo's canvases are adorned with the styles of the great international masters of this century--Picasso, de Kooning, Gorky, etc.--and a deliberately orchestrated tension in their relationships to each other. In a single painting, he might incorporate various original subjects, each rendered in the instantly recognizable strokes of a different legend. The question becomes, exactly why has Condo set himself up as the copy-cat regurgitator of schools and movements drummed into the heads of painting students at all the major institutions of the world? Is he making fun of the tradition of thievery known as influence? Do you care, Morley? West Coast artist Larry Mantello, on the other hand, is reliving a more personal legacy in his installations featuring Mylar balloons, tourist trinkets, T-shirts, candies, and just about anything else that reminded Mantello of his childhood dream of visiting California--which was made a reality through his grandmother, who took him and his siblings on a trip there when each turned 16. The paintings of George Condo and the paraphernalia of Larry Mantello are on display through January 15 at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney at Bowen. For ticket info call 953-1MAC.
Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church: For folks who think the spirit of the holiday season is best expressed through the sound of many human voices in song, the First United Methodist Church's hundred-member Chancel Choir gives a free concert with full orchestral accompaniment. All four suites of Shaw and Bennett's The Many Moods of Christmas, an arrangement deadly familiar to all vocal and instrumental students for its fiercely demanding rearrangements of simple holiday carols, are performed. Also included on the program is handbell music, a live nativity scene, dance, and a reading of the Christmas story. The Chancel Choir performance gets under way at 7 pm in the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church, corner of Ross and Harwood across from the Dallas Museum of Art. It's free. For more info call 220-2727.
The Nutcracker: If you're an arts organization faced with selecting a distinctive cash cow from among the holiday herd, what do you do? Most companies, sadly, play it straight, with the knowledge that people have lost their immunity to nutcrackers and Christmas carols during the warm months and have a near-endless appetite for these productions (as any psychologist can tell you, repetitive rituals are a great source of comfort and security to people). Why, exactly, hasn't someone exploded the playing field with a brave new interpretation--A Christmas Carol performed with midgets and a seven foot-tall Tiny Tim (the irony...), or The Nutcracker reimagined as the story of a day-dreaming housewife whose marital aids come to glorious life? Well, until then, we'll have to make do with the familiar, although Ballet Dallas does promise its production goes back to a traditional version of E.T.A. Hoffman's fairy tale rarely seen today. Ballet Dallas performs The Nutcracker December 16-23 at 7:30 pm, with additional 2 pm matinee performances scheduled on December 17, 18, and 23 at the Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm. $5-$33. For tickets call 373-8000.
Black Nativity: Although Langston Hughes is almost exclusively remembered as a poet these days, his work as a dramatist and nontraditional theatrical experimenter was just as renowned to the audiences of his day. Indeed, his experience with live theater predates much of his verse, stretching back to a childhood in Cleveland working with a local company. His New York theater would become the ultimate performing arts space of the so-called Black Renaissance, prompting Hughes to form companies in Los Angeles and Chicago. A musical that proved to have longer legs than any of the rest of his theater pieces was Black Nativity, a retelling of the Christmas story using verse, pantomime, narrative, gospel and folk traditionals, and audience participation. The musical was revived to great worldwide acclaim in the '60s. New Arts Six, the sextet of singers, storytellers, and imagination artists who are themselves gaining a national reputation for their major-city performances with orchestras and other institutions, revive Hughes' work under the auspices of Theatre Three. Black Nativity is performed Dec 20-23 at 8:15 pm at Theatre Three in the Quadrangle. Tickets are $10-$23, although not all prices are available for all performances. For information call 871-3300.
La Virgen de Guadalupe: Currently in the city of Dallas are two wide-reaching exhibitions celebrating La Virgen de Guadalupe, also known as the Lady of Americas--the centuries-old image that has inspired both community and revolt across Latin American countries. One features works by the artists' collective ARTE and is currently available for eyeballing at 500X Gallery; the other features works in all media by more than 40 local and regional artists. This one was organized, curated by, and includes the works of Jose Vargas, a former ARTE member who's currently soloing it but still has, obviously, quite a few artist pals on whom he can call. Vargas' third annual La Virgen de Guadalupe Show is free and on display Saturdays and Sundays, 2-5 pm through December 31 at 800 N Crawford & Canty in Oak Cliff. For information call 948-6260.
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