Pure Classic 

A week of Russian gems


Where would we be without the Kirov Ballet? Well, we'd have no American neoclassical dance as we now know it -- no Kirov-trained Balanchine, no high-class San Francisco Ballet, nor a dozen other top companies around the country directed by New York City Ballet alums. No Pavlova or Nureyev. You would never see Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, or any of Fokine or Nijinsky's ingenious ballets from the 1910s and '20s. Stravinsky wouldn't be the composer to accompany dance into the modern age. In fact, without the Kirov-packed Ballets Russes, who knows how the 20th-century art scene might have evolved? The Kirov is history. It is also one of the last great repositories of 19th-century classical ballet technique, much of which has been bastardized over the past century with Americans' lust for speed over precision and surface over depth. To see the Kirov today is to look through a telescope and see where 20th-century dance began, to have an almost-pure glimpse into the past. Don't expect the manic energy of either the East or West coasts to infuse its dancing. It is sedate by comparison, but serves up gorgeous geometries and aristocratic elegance instead. In the company's rare East Bay appearance through Cal Performances at UCB's Zellerbach Hall, it will present two programs in a seven-performance run, with a rep consisting of Fokine classics and Balanchine gems, and the additional lure of rare, on-tour accompaniment by the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater. From October 7 to 9, the company stages its all-Fokine program that includes Chopiniana, The Firebird, and Scheherazade. Not only do these ballets open a window into the progression of dance from narrative to abstract, but they remain works of brilliant invention and daring. Program B follows with the three-part Balanchine work, Jewels, in which the choreographer created faceted dance poems inspired by emeralds, rubies, and diamonds based on distinct dance styles of 19th- and 20th-century ballet, using the music of Fauré, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. Tickets: 510-642-9988 or CalPerfs.berkeley.edu -- Ann Murphy

THU 10/9


The race car

Taking place entirely within in the stifling environment of a subway car, LeRoi Jones' Dutchman portrays what can happen when a match is thrown into the equally claustrophobic confines of race and sexual relations. When Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) premiered Dutchman off-Broadway in March of 1964, the fervor that greeted it was overwhelming. Philip Roth panned it in The New York Review of Books (prompting Jones to write him an angry letter, calling Roth "no brighter than the rest of America, slicker perhaps"), but The Village Voice honored it with an Obie. Five years later, John H. Doyle directed Dutchman at San Francisco's Julian Theatre; this month, Doyle brings back to the Bay Area this electric story of a black man driven to distraction by a whacked-out white seductress. Or, as Justin Sander wrote in The Portland Mercury, "the can't-fail premise of a crazy character fucking with the mind of a sane character until the sane character is also crazy." The production runs this week and next at the Jazz House, 3192 Adeline St., Berkeley. Shows are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturdays at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Admission costs $12 for evening performances, $10 for matinees. Call 510-704-8725 for reservations. -- Stefanie Kalem

TUE 10/13

Theater of Chow

For Shotgun Theatre Lab's new production, Eat , director Kimberley Dooley and playwright Liz Lisle collaborated with the Theatre Lab company, conducting interviews to form the base of the piece, and then improvising from there. These improvs include scenes based on found text and movement, and the result is a documentary-style work that explores the relationship between the consumer and the consumed. The six-person ensemble depicts, among other things: a construction worker fixated on outdoing his co-worker at lunch; a cadre of "mad flavorists" plotting to control human eating habits; and the plight of a southern belle, wandering the halls of an opulent hotel. Sit down and enjoy at LaVal's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid in Berkeley, Mondays and Tuesdays from Oct. 13 through 28. Showtimes are at 8 p.m. and all tickets cost $10. Call 510-704-8210 for tickets, and visit ShotgunPlayers.org for more information. -- Stefanie kalem


D'oh, My Lord, D'oh

Roll over, Shakespeare

Entertainment Weekly named Rick Miller one of the 100 "most creative (and irresistible) people" on the rise in show business. Why? Well, there's this little play called Macbeth, see, written by this dead guy. And then there's this obscure TV show, The Simpsons, which features a cast of dozens and a sometimes satirical, sometimes slapstick bent. Eight years ago Miller, a Montreal-trained and Toronto-based writer and performer, decided to bring those two iconic universes together. From this came MacHomer, an international stage hit that he performs all by himself. That's right -- Miller as Marge as Lady Macbeth, Miller as Mr. Burns as King Duncan, Miller as Moe the Bartender as Witch #2, etc. "MacHomer may just be the perfect collision of pop cultures," said the Detroit Metro Times, and we say, well, if you can't create something new, you might as well make a dazzling hybrid. MacHomer is a late addition to CalShakes' 2003 season, playing at Bruns Memorial Amphitheater in Orinda this Wednesday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 10 p.m. CalShakes.org or 510-548-9666. -- Stefanie Kalem


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