Solo Barysh 

Dance demigod touches down

6/20-6/22

Not since Isadora Duncan has anyone performed so often to such huge crowds for something other than his own fame and fortune. The still-astonishing Mikhail Baryshnikov has been devising strategies to get Americans to see dance they would refuse to see if he weren't performing it. Modern gems from the 1940s? He digs them up. Avant-garde dances by unknowns? He dares to perform them. Now, with the advent of the Baryshnikov Arts Center on New York's West 37th Street, the demigod of dance is landing in Berkeley (Saturday and Sunday at Zellerbach Playhouse, $60-$86, 510-642-9988) in a tour of solo work to piano compositions performed by pianist Koji Atwood. The program includes dance by the brainy dame of minimalist lucidity, Lucinda Childs; an appropriate homage to "an aging, though jaunty, antistar" by Elliot Feld; and work by Tere O'Connor as well as Ruth Davidson Hahn. There is always something for everyone in a Baryshnikov event. First there's the chance to see a wonder of the performing arts, which for many concertgoers is enough. Then there's the opportunity to engage in a discussion with ourselves about how a man in his mid-fifties approaches an art form designed for twenty-year-olds. And finally, there's the beauty and pathos that still spill out of him. Dance, Baryshnikov's art tells us, is vastly more than the act of physical performance. Thank God. -- Ann Murphy

6/20-7/27

Slice of Lust

No one has as much narrative fun with domestic violence as the French. They've had so much practice at it, as in Thérèse Raquin , Emile Zola's 1873 stage adaptation of his novel, the grim story of an unhappily married woman with a large knife, a lover from her past she cannot resist, her redundant husband, and the husband's clinging mother. Yessir, something's gotta give at the Aurora Theatre (previews begin June 20) through July 27 at 2081 Addison St., Berkeley. 510-843-4822 or www.auroratheatre.org -- Kelly Vance

6/24-7/6

Tight Skirts, Tight Pants

Spaniards in the works

Take a New York-born choreographer (Martin Santangelo) who reportedly fell in love with flamenco in San Francisco, a classically trained flamenco dancer from Madrid (Soledad Barrio, Santangelo's wife), stir with the spirit of flamenco puro, and you have Noche Flamenca, the celebrated Spanish dance ensemble that's moving into UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall next Tuesday, June 24. Santangelo and Barrio's seven-member troupe -- three dancers, two guitarists, two singers -- brings a little touch of la madrugada to Z'bach for eleven performances through July 6. Tickets are $42 and $30 from the Cal Performances box office, 510-642-9988 or www.calperfs.berkeley.edu -- Kelly Vance

6/21-7/6

Go Bacchus

Ancient Greek revenge

Humans occasionally outsmarted the gods in ancient Greek mythology, but it was fairly rare. Most of the time the deities had the advantage, as in the case of Pentheus, king of Thebes, in Euripides' classic play, The Bacchae. For reasons of his own, Pentheus seeks to snuff out worship of the god Dionysus (aka Bacchus). The angry Dionysus gets revenge by disguising himself as a wayfaring stranger who convinces Pentheus to clothe himself as a Bacchante -- one of Dionysus' frenzied cult of worshippers -- and then lures the king to the mountains. The king is then torn apart by the Bacchantes and Maenads, Dionysus' equally wild female auxiliary. That's a lot of deceit and bloodshed, but the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley can handle it. Their production of the fifth-century BC drama, directed by David Stein, opens at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, outdoors at North Berkeley's John Hinkel Park, through July 6. Free. 510-525-1620 or www.aeofberkeley.org -- Kelly Vance

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