Roma Holiday 

"Gypsy Spirit" sets up camp at Zellerbach

WED 2/11

Recently Cal Performances presented "Gypsy Caravan," featuring music and dance ensembles from Rajasthan, Macedonia, Romania, and Spain. That evening surveyed the sprawling global reach of the Roma, or Gypsy, tradition and its enthralling diasporic culture. Tonight at Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley (8 p.m., $22-$38, 510-642-9988) a single troupe, the Budapest Dance Ensemble, traces that vast migration, in performances by its fourteen dancers, plus twelve musicians of the Gypsy Cimbalom Band, in Gypsy Spirit, Journey of the Roma. The Roma music and dance tradition is remarkable in its peregrinations. Originating in Northern India, Roma's restless artists started migrating to the West for mysterious reasons more than a thousand years ago. Persecuted and often reviled, they kept moving, through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Transylvania, and across central Europe to Spain. In each region they contributed rich, enormously varied styles of expression. Comprising one of the most celebrated folk ensembles from Central Europe since its founding more than a generation ago, acclaimed cimbalom (Hungarian dulcimer) player and musical director Kálmán Balogh and Budapest Dance Ensemble artistic director Zoltán Zsuráfszki bring alive a whirling, strutting world tour of Roma culture, including, as they say, "exotic Turkish music and dances, Spanish flamenco, fiery Bulgarian footwork and melodies, Romanian songs, and refined performances of the csárdá (known regionally as the 'tango of the East') from Hungary and Transylvania" -- the result of extensive research into the indigenous music of the Roma people. This promises to be one of the folk-performance highlights of the year. Info: CalPerfs.Berkeley.edu -- Frako Loden

2/13, 2/14

Sweet Notes

What, no hip hop?

Ding dong. It's a Valentine's Day Singing Telegram. Imagine the look on your loved one's face when she or he opens the door and is confronted with a quartet of singers armed with love songs, a single long-stemmed rose, and a Valentine card. The singers have a short but sweet repertoire of two songs -- "Your Song" and "When I Fall in Love." Sorry, no requests, especially not "Hot in Herre." All that glamour has a price: $40 ($25 for students). Singing Valentines are delivered Friday and Saturday in the UC Berkeley campus vicinity only. For reservations: 510-642-3880. -- Kelly Vance

TUE 2/17

Height of Achievement

Dr. Dorothy Height is a true historical figure. Alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she was one of the original activists in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, helping secure basic civil rights for all Americans. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2003 as well as the NAACP's prestigious Spingarn Award, and serves as president of the National Council of Negro Women. And now Dr. Height is coming to San Pablo. Tuesday, February 17, at Contra Costa College's Knox Performing Arts Center, she'll be signing copies of her book, Open Wide the Freedom Gates, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in honor of Black History Month. For more info, visit ContraCosta.cc.ca.us -- Kelly Vance

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