Even while the release of the Bollywood-influenced movies Bride and Prejudice, Monsoon Wedding, and Bend It Like Beckham introduced the upbeat, high-energy, barrel (dhol)-drum-accompanied Indian bhangra dance and music to the west, Vicki Virk is doing her part to make sure the entire Bay Area has a chance to experience it firsthand. The traditional celebratory harvest dance that gets shoulders shaking, hips swinging, hands clapping, and feet stomping was once known only to Punjabis. It has come a long way since then -- literally working its way out of the fields of India, onto the screens of Bollywood, and into urban clubs of California, including Berkeley's very own Ashkenaz. There tonight (Wednesday), Virk's Dhol Rhythms dance troupe of women of all ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds hosts Dhol Patrol. DJ Jimmy Love and DJ Earflaps will spin the tunes and Dholie JT will keep the rhythm flowing with an upbeat dhol drumming performance. The grassroots, hole-in-the wall, anything-goes feel of the studio that transforms itself into a performance space and dancehall makes the venerable Berkeley venue a perfect place for free spirits. Dressed in brightly colored tops and wide-legged silk pants, with jingling anklets, delicate bangles on wrists, and bindis on foreheads, the troupe will show its stuff with two upbeat and energetic performances likely to inspire even nondancers to get up and move. For the not-so-confident dancers, those with unrealized potential, and others without a clue, Virk will kick off the evening at 9 p.m. sharp with a dance workshop.
"It's really rewarding for me to be able to introduce a part of my own culture to people of all walks of life," she says. According to her, anyone can do bhangra and everyone ought to try. Dancing, she explains thoughtfully, is one thing that is a part of every culture of civilization. "Dancing is like celebrating life. It doesn't matter what you do or how you do it, it's something everyone wants to do. It's about having a zest for life."
Audiences at Diablo Light Opera Company's Miss Saigon will get two Kims for the price of one -- because of the demanding vocals of the lead female role, two actors (Nina Gosiengfiao and Catherine Gloria) will play the part. All the other show-stopping production elements of the Broadway hit musical remain the same, including the helicopter landing and the dream sequence's pink Cadillac, in the DLOC prod, which pits a cast of forty and an eighteen-piece orchestra against the tale of the 1975 fall of South Vietnam. Miss Saigon, directed by Daren A.C. Carollo, opens Friday at 8 at Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek and runs through October 1. Tickets ($28.75-$33.75) at the DLRCA box office. DLOC.org or 925-943-7469. -- Kelly Vance
Divorced from Realism
Get out your smoking jackets or your slinky cocktail dresses, pour yourself some champagne in a paper cup, and motor out to Walnut Creek this Friday night -- Noél Coward is back in town. The celebrated trans-Atlantic playwright, composer, actor, singer, devil-may-care wit, and bon vivant may have passed away in 1973, but Private Lives, arguably his best play -- divorced couple reunites on their separate honeymoons -- lives on in a production staged by Lois Grandi's Playhouse West, starring Greg Baglia and Amy Jay Raymond (right). The show opens Friday at 8:15 p.m. for a run through September 24 at Knight Stage 3 in Lesher Regional Center for the Arts. Tix: 925-943-7469. Info: PlayhouseWest.org -- Kelly Vance
You don't have to be an A's fan to dislike the Yankees; in fact, Yankee-hating is almost as storied a tradition as the national pastime itself. For proof, look no further than Damn Yankees, the 1950s musical about a man who sells his soul to the devil to help the Washington Senators beat the pinstriped perennial pennant-winners. The current Alameda Civic Light Opera production, directed by Jeff Teague and featuring Robert Lopez as middle-aged fan Joe Hardy and Donna Rapa as hell-spawned temptress Lola, opens at Kofman Auditorium September 3, and runs until September 18. For tickets, visit ACLO.com or call 510-864-ACLO. -- Eric K. Arnold
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