As much as we love professional dance, there tends to be a separation between the people onstage and the people in the seats that sometimes feels a bit alienating (and not just distance-wise). Having a background in dance, we realize that's often the case for the dancer as well as the audience member. Classical ballet is a perfect example of a dance genre that while beautiful and challenging appears very I-can-do-this-and-you-can't--sort of flaunting its difficulty and required skill. Flamenco, however, is a combination of music and dance that is historically balanced and welcoming in a sort of "community" fashion. Noche Flamenca, founded in Madrid more than 10 years ago by Martin Santangelo and Soledad Barrio, expounds upon this vibe of community and family with performances no less demanding than Swan Lake but so much more involving. Known for being a "fiery" form of dance, with brilliant colors, hypnotizing spins and turns, and aggressive, percussive movement, flamenco by nature seems more, to put it simply, of the people. It's not glossed over for easy visual digestion. It retains beauty through honesty and incredibly hard work. Barrio, a renowned dancer, and Santangelo, artistic director, demand of their company an understanding of the Spanish gypsy culture that is then shared with the audience through steps that are performed with speed and intricacy for a mesmerizing but accessible production. And dance is suddenly less pretentious, hot-blooded and much, much closer. TITAS welcomes Noche Flamenca back to Big D on Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. in the McFarlin Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University campus. Tickets are $12 to $55. Call 214-528-5576 or twirl on over to www.titas.org. --Merritt Martin
February 14 isn't just for lovers and Hallmark anymore. As V-Day, it's for lovers of vaginas and protection for those who have them, with performances of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues raising funds to help women worldwide. Quad C Theatre at Collin County Community College, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, presents the Obie Award-winning and controversy-stirring play. All ticket and raffle sales will benefit Hope's Door, a women's shelter in Plano, and Women of Iraq, Under Siege, V-Day's own national campaign. Performances are February 11 and February 12 at 8 p.m. and February 13 at 2:15 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $7 for students and seniors age 55 and up. Raffle tickets are $1 each. Call 972-881-5809. --Mary Monigold
Hearts With Soul
Cows may have four stomach chambers, but the Texas Ballet Theater is the only creature we know of with five hearts. Do they love more intensely? Do they hurt more easily? Of course, they're artistes! Find out when the troupe plays Cupid with Five of Hearts, a program featuring three pieces choreographed by TBT artistic director Ben Stevenson (Five Poems with music by Richard Wagner, a pas de deux from Prelude with music by Rachmaninoff and a pas de deux from Vivaldi, which is dedicated to TBT patron Mary Ralph Lowe) plus a pas de deux from Don Quixote and Rheology, Fort Worth choreographer Bruce Wood's first collaboration with TBT. Performances are 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St. in Fort Worth. Tickets are $16 to $95. Call 1-877-212-4280. --Shannon Sutlief
Some couples find their commonality in characteristics such as companionship, religion and love. In some instances, however rare, two people find that attribute to be a monkey--excuse me, a monkey that surfs. Kitchen Dog Theater presents Nick Darke's The Dead Monkey, which shows the ridiculous absurdities that can sneak into the seriousness of marriage. The death of an old surfer couple's pet monkey forces them to face reality and gain new independence while saying all the wrong things at the right time. It's the type of British comedy that makes you raise your hands to clap in that awkward self-reflexive "huh?" fashion that only good theater can. The Dead Monkey opens under Aaron Ginsburg's direction Friday and runs through March 12 in the Black Box Theater at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary located at 3120 McKinney Ave. Tickets range from $8 to $20. Call 214-953-1055 or buy online at www.kitchendogtheater.org. --Danna Berger
We've been straining our brain to think of the most romantic ways to celebrate the weekend before Valentine's Day--you know, in order to demonstrate that we care about our sweetie on days aside from the nationally designated one. The few plans that have survived romantic scrutiny include candlelit dinners, trips to the country and carriage rides, but we're not so sure about Comedy Sportz. The local improv comedy troupe performs a Valentine-themed "battle of the sexes" every year, and this year's installment at the West End Comedy Theater, 603 Munger Ave., taking place 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, will pit the two-year female champs against an all-guy team of comedians. We're on the fence about it: Romance very well could erupt from laughter, but we're concerned that if the guys win, our dearest will withhold Valentine's love to honor her losing gender. Guys, please lose. Tickets are $10 and $15. Call 214-521-5233. --Sam Machkovech
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