Taking Steps 

Students encounter real, live dancers

THU 3/27

Hey, kids! Let's put on a show!" Sounds like a wholesome Andy Hardy fantasy, but picture 1,600 elementary and junior-high students, most never having taken a dance class before, being encouraged to put together a dance presentation in one hour. A vision of hell or an extraordinary video op? You be the judge at the Diablo Ballet's free ninth annual Dance Development Theatre Encounter, held at Walnut Creek's Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts on the mornings of March 27 and 28. In an event designed to reach children from traditionally underserved public schools, Diablo Ballet company members collaborate with the kids in creating an improvised ballet complete with themes, dance steps, costumes, and music. Last year saw a notable sequel -- Shrek and the Duck. The kids learn some steps and even get to see a few selections from the company's repertoire, which might inspire a few to pursue dance careers of their own. See www.diabloballet.org for more details. -- Frako Loden

SAT 3/29

Get Out Your Wallets

Paramount's Great America is partnering with Nickelodeon. Does this mean a Bill Cosby comedy ride or a miniature Cheers bar for a frosty root beer after a hard day at kindergarten? Heck no. It means spending a day with ... uh, SpongeBob SquarePants and his Bikini Bottom pals, the puzzlingly named characters on Nick's hit children's series. Be that as it may, the kids can still count on plenty of exciting rides at the theme park, such as Runaway Reptar, the Psycho Mouse, and the Grizzly. Be prepared: they'll try to sell you a season pass for $59.99 -- but you have to buy four of them. The park opens for the season Saturday, March 29, and operates through October. 4701 Great America Parkway in Santa Clara, between 101 and 237. 408-988-1776 or www.pgathrills.com -- Kelly Vance

FRI 3/28

Sad Science

Check out the latest in labcore when Ira Herskowitz performs "Double Talking Helix Blues" and other science-inspired numbers. The UCSF professor of genetics (and yeast specialist, dontcha know) sings the blues about DNA, rejection, procrastination, competition, and other white-coat universals at the Ask Jeeves Planetarium in Chabot Science and Space Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, starting at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets cost $8-$12. Go to www.chabotspace.org or call 510-336-7395 for more info. -- Stefanie Kalem

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